Rana Plaza Two Years On: The Long Road to Justice

by War on Want

Since the horrific collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in April 2013, killing over 1,100 garment workers, there has been a groundswell of campaigning for workers’ rights in Bangladesh and around the world. Whilst these actions have led to significant improvements, the workers of Bangladesh will continue to need solidarity as they fight for their right to decent working conditions.

In response to the Rana Plaza disaster, a wave of anger from the public around the world helped boost an initiative by Bangladeshi workers: the Bangladesh Safety Accord. The Accord is a legally binding agreement between trade unions and major brands sourcing from Bangladesh to drive forward life-saving safety improvements in Bangladeshi factories. Pressure from ordinary people around Europe was critical in driving over 180 brands to sign up to the Accord, although some companies such as Gap and Wal-Mart continue to hold out against it.

The Accord’s progress has been impressive, and it has made significant impact on the ground. Inspections have taken place in over 1,500 factories, and they have identified a staggering 80,000 safety issues that need addressing. Where factories were deemed to pose an immediate threat to life, they have been closed immediately.
The Accord’s continued success is not guaranteed. As brands face up to their commitments to fund safety improvements, delays, quibbling and the complexity of dealing with so many companies all threaten to undermine the Accord’s vital work.
Meanwhile, as the rest of the world forgets the worst accident in a manufacturing facility in recorded history, the garment workers’ struggle continues. As they seek to organise in more and more factories, they continue to face factory owners who are heavily resistant to worker involvement. Union activists face violent threats and harassment.

Ultimately, it is the garment workers themselves who will win their right to safe, fairly paid jobs with reasonable hours. War on Want has worked in partnership with the National Garment Workers’ Federation (NGWF) in Bangladesh for over 20 years. This kind of long-term partnership, which continues when the world’s attention is elsewhere, sustains organisations like NGWF in their ongoing work. It is solidarity from ordinary people around the globe that supports the struggles of those on the front line in the fight for workers’ rights.

Marking the Second Anniversary
On the eve of the 2nd anniversary of the Rana Plaza Disaster, War on Want together with Labour Behind the label organised a walking tour on Oxford St, London to see the high street brands behind fashions’ dirty secret. The tour was supported by Fashion Revolution, Potent Whisper, Rainbow Collective, The Brick Lane Debates ,TRAID & Traidcraft ; Unite the Union - London & Eastern
You can watch a video of the tour below: