Wendy Sherman
Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Dhaka, Bangladesh
May 26, 2013

Reuters Soundbite

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: We were buoyed by the extraordinary courage of the young woman who survived for 17 days and seemed to be emblematic of the will and the resilience of Bangladesh to not only survive such a tragedy but to thrive and to see it as a transformational moment where in fact the issues that your country has faced with labour rights, with fire safety, with building codes, this is the moment that the government in the lead, along with the business sector, labour and consumers, with support from the international community can really make a difference and ensure that the very strong brand that is Bangladesh will continue forever - and even get better.

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: In 1911 the United States had its own tragedy called the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, and we only lost 129 I believe it was people at the time but it was considered a monumental tragedy. It shocked the nation and as a result of that we changed everything we did: we created building codes, we got inspectors, we changed our regulatory framework, we allowed free association and labour rights in a way we had not before. It was transformational and we hope that that is the case here in Bangladesh as well.

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: All of the partners play a role but at the end of the day citizens expect the governments to take the lead role and the foreign secretary, the foreign minister and I'm sure the prime minister will assure me that that is indeed the case and there are plans that are being put in place and already begun to be implemented. This is hard to sustain, but in order to solve the problem one must sustain the effort to get to the result that every worker every day deserves to make sure that they have a safe workplace and that they can support their families and their futures.