The Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN), along with trade unions and labour rights organisations in Bangladesh and around the world, is calling for immediate action from international brands following the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, in Dhaka Bangladesh.
The eight-story Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed April 24th, killing hundreds of workers and injuring over 1,000. The building housed at least five garment factories that produced for international brands, including well-known Canadian brand Joe Fresh.
MSN is calling on Joe Fresh and other Canadian brands sourcing from garment factories in the Rana Plaza building to come clean on what they knew about the health and safety record of the factories, compensate the victims, and take steps now to prevent future disasters.
Joe Fresh representatives have been quoted as saying that they audit their Bangladeshi factories regularly against health and safety standards. For at least the last eight years – since the Spectrum Factory collapsed on April 11, 2005, killing 62 workers – brands have promoted voluntary, haphazard and notoriously unreliable factory auditing as the stock answer to an escalating body count in Bangladeshi factories. Company-controlled auditing programs have failed time and time again to identify serious health and safety risks, let alone fix them.
Apparel companies sourcing from Bangladesh should be collaborating with companies like PVH Corp and Tchibo and global and Bangladeshi unions on implementing the comprehensive Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Program. There is a pressing need for a credible program that includes independent safety inspections, public reports on serious risks and the steps being taken to fix them, training and empowerment of workers to identify and address risks in the factories, and real repercussions for factories that fail to implement changes.
MSN is also asking that all buyers from the factories in Rana Plaza jointly provide just compensation to the injured workers and the families of those who died in the disaster. There is substantial precedent and experience amongst other brands in assisting the families of workers who have been killed or injured in other factory disasters, and the buyers should be negotiating compensation that allows those families to survive the loss of their breadwinners in what was clearly a preventable disaster.
It is imperative that companies sourcing in Bangladesh join these efforts to create lasting change in the industry, before yet another preventable disaster claims the lives of more Bangladeshi workers.
Join Labour Start’s action campaign here:
Working for a minimum wage of US$38 per month, less than one percent of garment workers in Bangladesh are represented by a union.
The Labour Law leaves workers unable to join a union and fight for safe workplaces, improved working conditions and better wages.
IndustriALL Global Union and IndustriALL Bangladesh Council is calling on the government to take urgent action to guarantee freedom of association and improve building and fire safety and the minimum wage for the more than 3 million garment workers in Bangladesh.
Send your message supporting these demands to the Bangladesh Prime Minister and Minister for Labour and Employment today – click here.