The 24th April marks the fourth anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy. This garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed killing 1,134 people and injuring around 2,500 others, mainly women aged 18-20 years old. Children were among the number that died as the nursery facilities were on the top floor and 200 people have still not been found. It is the biggest and most horrific industrial accident to have happened within the fashion industry and highlights the dangerous working conditions that such workers toil under. When the workers arrived in the morning they didn't want to go into the building because of large cracks that had appeared in the walls making it obviously unsafe. Gang members were paid by the owner to beat the workers back into the factory, being told if they didn't work they wouldn't get paid for the whole month. Many survivors were trapped in the rubble for days and had to have limbs amputated. The workers were making clothes for 29 US, European and Canadian labels such as Benneton, Walmart and Primark. Their normal shift was 12-13 hours long with just two days off a month.
A new accord on factory and building safety in Bangladesh was drawn up not long afterwards but many of the American brands involved did not want to sign up to it and decided to draw up their own plan which was strongly criticised for being less stringent. Only 9 of the brands attended the meetings to discuss victim compensation and only 7 had contributed to the fund by the following year. Full compensation has still yet to be paid to all the workers from the big name brands whose garments were being made at rock bottom prices. Sadly there have been many other disasters before and since Rana Plaza including the fire at Tazreen fashions which killed 117 and injured over 200.
So why aren't things changing and what can we do about it? I believe we all have a great powers we can wield and one is social media; Ask your favourite brands where your garments are made and about the workers. Secondly use your purchasing power; if you aren't happy with their answer or want to buy something knowing it has been produced ethically then look to other brands who offer this.
The 24th April is Fashion Revolution day so join us and be part of it and use the hashtag #whomademyclothes. To find out more watch The True Cost movie available on Netflix.
#fashionrevolution #ethicalfashion #thetruecost
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