Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh that caused the deaths and injuries of thousands of people.
The poorly built nine-story building that collapsed last April near the capital of Dhaka housed five garment factories and a shopping center. Although a crack in the building had been detected the morning of the collapse and the factory owners were warned, they kept the building open for business anyway. In total, around 1,130 people died and several thousand more were severely injured, many of whom were young women. Women make up 80 percent of the garment workforce in Bangladesh.
One year later, there has been some progress. The factory owners face murder charges for negligence and the 2,400 survivors and victim’s families began receiving around $700 for compensation this week. Fire and structural safety regulations have been standardized, and several Western retailers who have their garments manufactured in Bangladesh have pledged to promote and adhere to stricter safety standards.
However, more must be done to improve conditions for the workers. Workers protesting for higher wages, safer conditions, and better treatment, are often met with violence, and the government has had difficulty adhering to new safety regulations. More Western retailers must also step up and commit to better working conditions and regulations.
“In our view, the collective industry response to the Rana Plaza collapse has taken too long and various necessary steps have yet to be taken,” said Bob Chant, senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications for Loblaw, the owner of a popular Canadian retail line that has donated to a fund for victims.
Media Resources: Toronto Star 4/24/14; AFP 4/21/14; Bloomberg Businessweek 4/24/14; The Raw Story 4/15/14; Feminist Newswire 4/24/13, 4/26/13, 5/9/13, 5/15/13, 9/24/13, 12/23/13, 2/12/14, 3/13/14