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The April 24 Ritual -- Rana Plaza's Unfinished Legacy

Author: Aruna Kashyap, Human Rights Watch, Published on: 25 April 2018

25 April 2018

...Within five years of the building collapse, one of two large private fire and building safety initiatives in Bangladesh—the Alliance on Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance), a safety effort mostly led by North American brands—announced that it is preparing to wrap up and hand over operations to an “independent, credible, locally-led organization,” developed in partnership with the Bangladesh government and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

The other private initiative—the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety (Accord), led mostly by European brands has extended its work till 2021, saying its operations would continue “beyond May 2018 as all parties recognize, substantial additional capacity-building is necessary before responsibility to protect workers in factories producing for Accord signatory brands can be responsibly handed over to a national regulatory body.” The extended Accord includes small yet concrete improvements that give protections for workers’ freedom of association more teeth.

These two initiatives, both led by reputed brands, came to very different conclusions about what has changed in the past five years, which raises the question—why?

Could it be that having workers centrally involved in designing and contributing to the administration of an initiative offers a worker perspective that can better inform decisions about whether to “transition” or stay? To be clear—workers are not just “any” stakeholder in such decisions. They stand on a different footing from other “stakeholders” because they risk paying with their lives and limb...

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