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Rana Plaza two years on: Progress, but compensation and workers' rights still lacking

A Bangladeshi woman looks at portraits of missing_Photo Credit Associated Press Ashraful Alam Tito

On 24 April 2013, Rana Plaza building collapse killed over 1100 garment workers and left 2000 injured.  The second anniversary has seen NGOs and investors urge companies to address a 6$m shortfall in compensation for victims.  Human Rights Watch has highlighted the harassment and intimidation of workers who form trade unions - it urges the government to enforce the labour law and protect workers' right to freedom of association.

What progress has been made since the disaster, and what still remains to be done?  Find out from a range of perspectives below.  For a good summary, see this article by Lydia DePillis in Washington Post.

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21 April 2016

ANALYSIS - Three years after Rana Plaza disaster, has anything changed?

Author: Rina Chandran, Thompson Reuters Foundation

Three years after the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 factory workers, the rights and safety of workers are in greater focus, but progress in fixing problems in the supply chain is slow, experts and activists say...More than 40 defendants face charges over the disaster, but about 24 of the accused have absconded..The disaster led to the creation of two international coalitions designed to assess and help fund improvements to building and fire safety at thousands of garment factories in Bangladesh...But nearly three years on, about 70 percent of those plans are behind schedule, according to data on its website..."While compensation for victims became a priority after the disaster, the perennial problems of safety, health and prevention still need to be addressed," said Gopinath Parakuni, general-secretary of non-profit Cividep India...Every factory is still a tinder box, and effective ways to ensure day-to-day safety are still not in place," he said...As well as companies and governments, consumers are getting involved in the campaign for greater supply-chain transparency.


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21 April 2016

Fast fashion is crucial to Bangladesh. So what’s changed since the Rana Plaza disaster?

Author: Debbie Coulter, Ethical Trading Initiative

So what’s happened since then? Has the situation improved? And what lessons have been learnt...

It’s safe to say that Rana Plaza and the less well publicised Tazreen fashion factory fire that left over 100 dead in 2012, acted as wake-up calls to the garment industry...They galvanised global companies and brands to address the systemic health, safety and labour issues that riddled the industry...But here are two main issues:

  • Addressing occupational health and safety.
  • Promoting worker rights including freedom of association.

Strong health and safety provision. Decent wages. Better terms and conditions of employment. Freedom of association. They all have to be delivered. That’s going to take more time and effort. And most importantly it’s going to take even more collaboration...Between local factory owners and their workforce, with global brands and companies, and in partnership with strong trade unions and committed local NGOs.

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21 April 2016

Three years on from Rana Plaza disaster and little improvement in transparency or worker conditions

Author: Kate Nicholl & Vikram Shako in www.theconversation.com

Three years since the Rana Plaza collapse which killed 1100 people, small steps have been made towards improving the transparency of the garment supply chain, to help consumers understand the conditions in which their clothes are produced...The collapse of a garment factory in the plaza highlighted the lack of safety procedures and the oppressive conditions that workers are subjected to. Yet conditions and wages remain very poor for garment factory workers in countries like Bangladesh, despite surface efforts by western retailers.

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7 June 2015

Bangladesh: Funds for Rana Plaza victims reach $30m target

Author: Clean Clothes Campaign

The Clean Clothes Campaign...announce a major campaign victory with the confirmation that the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund has finally met its target of $30 million, following a large anonymous donation...The CCC has been campaigning since the disaster in April 2013 to demand that brands and retailers provided compensation to its victims...Since then over one million consumers from across Europe and around the world have joined actions against many of the major high street companies whose products were being made in one of the five factories housed in the structurally compromised building. 

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20 May 2015

Bangladesh: Second anniversary of the Accord

Author: Industriall Global Union

In May 2013, IndustriALL Global Union, Uni Global Union and global garment brands signed an unprecedented agreement to make garment factories safe in Bangladesh, following the Rana Plaza tragedy...With more than 200 company signatories and 1,500 factories covered by the agreement, the Accord has embarked on a large-scale effort to identify and resolve all major safety risks in these factories...Two years on, the Accord has made important progress towards making the factories safe. But if the Bangladeshi garment industry is to be truly sustainable, we also need strong unions that are not constantly under attack. IndustriALL is relentless in pursuing our goal to organize the garment industry in Bangladesh and to fight for a living wage for all garment workers.

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24 April 2015

"Whoever Raises Their Head, Suffers the Most": Workers’ Rights in Bangladesh’s Garment Factories

Author: Human Rights Watch

Garment workers in Bangladesh face poor working conditions and anti-union tactics by employers including assaults on union organizers, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. In the two years since more than 1,100 workers died in the catastrophic collapse of the Rana Plaza factory on April 24, 2013, efforts are underway to make Bangladesh factories safer, but the government and Western retailers can and should do more to enforce international labor standards to protect workers’ rights, including their right to form unions and advocate for better conditions.

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24 April 2015

ILO: Animated info-graphic on Bangladesh ready made garment sector, challenges and way forward

Author: ILO

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24 April 2015

Investor Letters Urging Further Action on Worker Safety in Bangladesh

Author: Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility

On the second anniverary of the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh, in April of 2015, a coalition of global investors representing $2.5 trillion in assets sent letters to corporate members of the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety (Accord) and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) requesting that they disclose efforts to safeguard the lives of workers in Bangladesh garment factories.  Read the three letters, and see their signatories.

Alliance member companies receiving the letter:

Ariela and Associates International LLC
Canadian Tire Corporation Limited
Carter’s Inc.
The Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc.
Costco Wholesale Corporation
Gap Inc.
Giant Tiger
Hudson’s Bay Company
IFG Corp.
Intradeco Apparel
J.C. Penney Company Inc.
The Jones Group Inc.
Jordache Enterprises, Inc.
The Just Group
Kohl’s Department Stores
L. L. Bean Inc.
M. Hidary & Company Inc.
Nordstrom Inc.
Public Clothing Company
Sears Holdings Corporation
Target Corporation
VF Corporation
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
YM Inc.

A similar letter was sent to companies belonging to the Accord:

List of Accord companies receiving the letter: 

Abercrombie & Fitch
American  Eagle  Outfitters
C & A
Fruit of the Loom
H & M
Marks & Spencer

A third group of companies received a letter regarding donating to the Rana Plaza Fund.

List of Companies Receiving the letter Regarding the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund

Cato Fashions
The Children's Place Retail Stores, Inc.
JC Penney
Kohl's Department Stores

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23 April 2015

Ethical Trading Initiative: Remembering the Rana Plaza disaster

Author: Ethical Trading Initiative

This anniversary offers a chance for victims to move on, but this is only possible if they have been fully compensated. We commend those brands and retailers that have paid compensation in line with the internationally-recognised Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund. But we urgently call on those that have not met their responsibilities to step up and do so. It is unacceptable that many people are still waiting for the compensation they are due, two years on...

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23 April 2015

Rana Plaza collapse: compensation fund has $6m shortfall two years on

Author: Sarah Butler and Jason Burke, The Guardian

...Campaigners around the world will mark the anniversary on Friday by calling for payments from companies including Walmart, Mango and Benetton that have so far contributed relatively small amounts to the compensation fund....

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