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Research finds "no systemic change" to garment worker conditions despite health and safety initiatives launched after Rana Plaza collapse

Author: University of New South Wales Sydney, Published on: 26 September 2019

"After Rana Plaza: are workers in clothing factories better off?", 25 September 2019

Worker safety and working conditions in factories that supply fast fashion and garments to some of the world’s biggest brands remain ‘fragile’ despite increased vigilance since the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster, new research has revealed...

...An international research project found a positive safety response to the unprecedented disaster and some improvement in labour standards but no “systemic change” that would lift workers out of hardship.

 ...The five-year Garment Supply Chain Governance project involved researchers...investigating the responses of managers from...lead firms...Bangladeshi garment factory managers and...garment workers. A further 120 stakeholders from government, NGOs, unions and other organisations were interviewed....

...The researchers found that:

  • Firms supported improved factory safety, but market pressure meant that factories had to absorb these costs without increasing prices.
  • Although firms participating in the Accord or the Alliance improved factory safety through rigorous inspection and remediation processes, without continuing incentives these improvements may not be sustainable.
  • The incidence of sweatshops was reduced – but problems of low wages, long working hours, abusive supervision and rejection of unions and collective bargaining led the researchers to characterize these factories as ‘hardship’ workplaces.

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