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24 Apr 2023

Sarah Butler & Thaslima Begum, The Guardian

Bangladesh: Labour rights abuses still rife ten years after Rana Plaza disaster

"Abuses ‘still rife’: 10 years on from Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza disaster", 24 April 2023


Paul Nowak, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress in the UK, said: “Ten years after more than a thousand workers died in the Rana Plaza factory collapse, labour rights abuses are still rife in Bangladesh and many are still working in unsafe conditions.


A positive legacy of the tragedy has been the creation of one of the world’s toughest factory safety agreements, which has brought together brands, manufacturers and union representatives to check and fix buildings and advise workers of their rights.


In 2021, an expanded international accord was developed that included more safety and worker health provisions beyond fire, electrical and structural inspections and repairs of factories. It also committed brands to develop a similar structure in Pakistan and at least one other country.

To date, at least 46 brands and retailers have signed the Pakistan accord, which is expected to protect 750,000 workers, although inspections are only now getting under way.

However, campaigners say some big multinationals including Levi’s, Gap, Walmart and Amazon have yet to sign up to the Bangladesh factory safety deal.


Levi’s said the accord was “not the only way to support workers in Bangladesh or anywhere else”. The company said it was confident in its own system of factory oversight that provided “checks and balances [and] helped us go further and gave us greater agility”.

Walmart said it remained committed to sourcing from factories that maintained safe working environments. The US retailer signed up to the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. After the dissolution of the alliance came the formation of Nirapon, a self-regulatory body that aims to regulate factories but does not have legally binding commitments.