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On 7th anniversary of Rana Plaza, MEPs call on EU Commission to introduce mandatory due diligence as COVID-19 exposes continued inequalities

Author: Lara Wolters & Agnes Jongerius, Medium, Published on: 28 April 2020

"Covid-19 shows Rana Plaza lessons have not been learnt", 24 April 2020

[A]t the time of the 7th anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in which over 1,000 Bengali workers lost their lives, these [Western clothing] companies are treating Bangladesh to a cynical birthday present. Over the past weeks, as a consequence of the corona-imposed closure of retail clothing shops, big Western brands have cancelled more than 3 billion euro’s worth of orders...

The story [...] again demonstrates the flagrant power asymmetry between Western purchasers and local producers...

In order to do better, we need European legislation on “due diligence”... This [...] would improve the accountability of Western companies — including those acting abroad in three ways. We urge the European Commission to table a proposal including (but not limited to) the following.

First, the legislation as we envisage it would require firms to build buffers to mitigate and compensate for health- and social impacts... Second, if a crisis like Covid-19 struck again and a company considered canceling orders, we would want legal requirements in place requiring that adverse impacts stemming from that decision would be addressed... Third, the legislation should give local communities, or NGOs or trade unions acting on their behalf, access to the European legal system to stand up for their rights.

Covid-19 has laid bare global inequality and power asymmetries once more... We need solid due diligence legislation at EU level, that would requires businesses to take their responsibility, and in the process make global supply chains more sustainable and resilient.

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