One year on: Has there been any change in the garment industry since the Rana Plaza factory collapsed?
On April 24th 2013, Rana Plaza factory collapsed where more than 1,134 people died in the disaster. The architect of the building has said it was designed to house shops and offices rather than factories or industrial equipment, and that three floors had been illegally added to the original building.
Main Uddin Khandaker, head of a government inquiry team, said the generators started up after a power cut, sending powerful vibrations throughout the building, which - together with the vibration of thousands of sewing machines - triggered the building to collapse.: it hadn't been built to withstand the weight or vibrations from the machinery. Over a thousand people died, and over two and a half thousand were injured or disabled . The day before, inspectors had insisted that the building wasn't safe and that it should be evacuated. Supervisors insisted that it was safe, and threatened workers' pay if they failed to show up. Since this tragic accident last year, there have been arrests, riots and worldwide criticism because of the lack of workers' rights within Bangladesh.
Rana Plaza was home to some big names within the garment industry, including Mango, Primark, Walmart and Benetton. After the building collapse, there was uproar within the garment industry, demanding for an increase in workers' rights and safety standards within Bangladeshi factories. An Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was created, and has been signed by thirty eight companies including Debenhams, Mango, and Tesco. Unfortunately, it only covers a third of factories in Bangladesh, meaning that many are still at risk, all for the sake of cheaper clothing and/or greater profit margins. Several American companies – including Walmart – refused to sign the Accord. Instead, they have set up an Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, which is more lax than its Accord counterpart, and not as legally binding.
Since the collapse of Rana Plaza, several factories have been inspected, but no structural issues have been found as dramatic as those from Rana Plaza. They have, however, found some problems. These problems are currently being looked into and repaired under the new Accord. By September 2014, inspectors are hoping to have inspected 1,500 factories in Bangladesh. Workers are still struggling to be heard, and to get a fair minimum wage.
Primark have recently agreed to spend an additional £6m in compensation for the families of people working for their supplier(New Wave Bottoms) that died, as well as for the people that were injured in the collapse. It has already paid out £1m for everyone that worked there, including people that did not work for its supplier. Primark has been quick to react and hand out compensation, but sadly, other companies have not. This has lead to concerns in Bangladesh about uneven and late compensation causing unrest. Other companies have contributed towards this compensation, but of undisclosed amounts. It is believed that £24m is needed to fully compensate those affected by the Rana Plaza collapse.
On the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, campaigners are coming together to ask, 'Who made your clothes?' Everyone who wants to take part on Fashion Revolution Day (Thursday 24 April 2014) is being asked to take a picture of themselves wearing an item of clothing inside out, with the hashtag '#insideout'. This will help to raise awareness of where clothing is made, and everyone from cotton farmers to clothing designers are taking part, from over 40 countries. We need to use the power of fashion to be a facilitator for positive ethical transparent change, and rebuild the broken links in the supply chain.
Zinia K is working with MADE in Europe on conducting a week of events on their workers right campaign –‘Every Garment Has A Name’ in April.
'Every Garment Has A Name' campaign wants to seek protection from the immoral and injustice of our own garments by reminding ourselves behind each garment is the name of a person who made it and we must honour their rights and ensure their safety
To show your support attend our Ethical Fashion show in April 2014, and join our mailing list or following us on twitter @Zinia_K to find out more details.
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More info on –‘Every garment has a name’