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Remembering the tragedy of Rana Plaza

Dhaka Savar Building CollapseA year ago the world learnt of the horror of the deaths of clothing workers in Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The Bangladeshi government recorded 1,100 deaths, and 2,500 people were rescued. Dangerous buildings collapsed, fire escapes were locked, there was no safety procedure and the survivors lost their jobs and faced destitution.

The cheap clothes these workers were producing were destined for export to the Western world by companies such as Primark, which has just posted
record profits.

The International Labour Association investigated the disaster and called for $40 million fund for compensation. A year on, only $15m has been contributed.

Yesterday the Bangladesh government announced payments of $645 per
head from the fund. According to Human Rights Watch, 15 of the big clothing importers from Bangladesh have not contributed anything, including Grabalok/Store 21 and Matalan. Primark has given $8m.

The Bangladesh government has given some support to the victims and
has attempted to improve safety conditions, but there is a huge wider question.

In the race to the bottom of global economics the clothing industry routinely moves from poor low-paid economies to even poorer lower-paid labour

The World Bank and IMF applaud the economic “benefits” of this process. Meanwhile workers die, children are exploited and the shiny global brands make millions in profits.

Brave trade unionists are fighting back in Bangladesh. A young worker, Reshima, described the morning of the tragedy.

We did not want to work but the general manager came and threatened us and said that if we did not work we would not get paid next month’s salary. He slapped one of my friends and dragged me out of where I was hiding under the staircase and took me to work.” 

We must challenge those who constantly condemn health and safety laws and regulations as being bad for business.

The case for international trade unionism and solidarity has never been stronger or more obvious, the case for exerting consumer power as an act of solidarity never more important.

This article also appeared in the Morning Star

Image Credit: FlickrDhaka Savar Building Collapse by Rijans007 CC BY SA



One Comment

  1. Robert says:

    Think back to our days coming out of the mire look at how we use to treat miners and cotton workers the fact is I like paying cheap clothes because I get benefits and cannot afford to buy expensive clothes. The fact is look at what Brown did for Africa repaying all the debt great stuff now follow it up and see how many Palaces Roll Royace’s have been build bought how many leaders have increased the Army navy air-force and became a dam sight richer while the country returns to debt. India China are off to the moon or mars while it people are in poverty, feel sorry not me.

    The fact is these countries need to sort them selves out, you cannot blame people here for buying clothes made in those countries my tee shirts cost £20 not cheap when you think it was bought by companies for 45p profits are profits we live within the greed, I’m sorry people died, people doied here as well in the good old days.

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