Stop The Killing! Demand safety for Bangladeshi workers

published 29-04-2013 14:45, last modified 17-05-2013 22:56

Over 1100 people were killed in the Bangladesh Rana Plaze building collapse.

On Wednesday 24th April thousands of workers went to work at one of their garment factories located above the Rana Plaza shopping centre in Savar, Dhaka. They had been told to return to work despite noticing large cracks appearing the building only the day before. Over 1100 of these workers were killed and over a thousand injured when that same day the building came crashing down, trapping them under tons of rubble and machinery.

The dead and injured workers in the Rana Plaza tragedy were producing garments for North American and European high street brands when their factories collapsed. A number of brands have acknowledged recent production or orders with these factories including Benetton (Italy), Bon Marche (UK), Cato Fashions (USA), The Children's Place (USA), El Corte Ingles (Spain), Joe Fresh (Loblaws, Canada), Kik (Germany), Mango (Spain), Matalan (UK), Primark (UK/Ireland) and Texman (Denmark). Labels relating to YesZee were found at the site; they told the CCC by phone that they were sourcing through an agent. Premier Clothing (UK) have committed to providing financial assistance to families and victims according to media reports, although they have not been clear about their sourcing relationship. Other brands are yet to come forward.

This tragedy has devastated the lives of thousands of families. The injuries suffered by many of these workers are horrific and will require both immediate and long-term medical care.Brands must take immediate action to make sure emergency relief is in place and  compensation is paid.

But we need more action to prevent future incidents. Since the Spectrum factory collapse in 2005, building and fire safety concerns have been repeatedly highlighted to brands buying from Bangladesh. Brands can no longer dodge responsibility for their lack of action to prevent these tragedies from happening. There is no way to justify any more delay in signing the binding Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement.

Since 112 workers were killed in the Tazreen fire on November 24th 2012, brands have made weak and insufficient proposals to address building and fire safety including safety films (H&M), a safety academy (WalMart) and their own initiatives. How much safety does a film provide when buildings collapse or emergency exits do not exist? Workers need a structural solution to stop these unsafe working conditions from existing. Brands need to prevent anymore unnecessary factory worker deaths. Signing the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement and working with trade unions in Bangladesh is the first, essential step.

This agreement, which was designed by Bangladesh and international unions with other labour groups, will mean fewer factory deathtraps. The Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement means independent building inspections, worker rights training, public disclosure and a long-overdue review of safety standards. It is transparent as well as practical, and unique in being supported by all key labour rights stakeholders in Bangladesh and internationally.

Tell brands to take responsibility and sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement!