On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,134 and injuring over 2,500 people. The structure housed clothing factories, a bank, and several shops. This horrific incident sparked widespread protests and calls for improved working conditions and safety regulations.
The disaster brought much-needed attention to Bangladesh’s garment factories’ poor working conditions and a lack of safety regulations. Protests that followed aimed to put pressure on the government and international fashion companies to improve working conditions and safety regulations in these factories.
The Bangladesh Accord is Expiring in May 2023.
Ten years later, garment workers, reporters, and unions say that while safety has improved in some cases, much more work remains to be done. Fundamental to achieving safe working conditions is ensuring workers have the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively, but also that there is an understanding of what constitutes an ethical and sustainable level of pay throughout the supply chain.
In response to the disaster, the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety was established, and it has been instrumental in improving safety conditions in Bangladesh’s garment factories. However, because it is set to expire in May 2023, there are concerns that progress may be jeopardised if a replacement agreement is not in place.
Any replacement agreement should take current circumstances into account, including the impact of inflation. According to reports, the minimum wage, which was set at $95 per month, is now far below the cost of living requirements. According to local news outlets, wages should be closer to $200 per month to meet typical needs.
The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety is a legally binding agreement between global brands and retailers and trade unions designed to build a safe and healthy Bangladeshi Ready Made Garment (RMG) Industry. It was signed on May 15th, 2013, in response to the Rana Plaza disaster that killed over 1,100 people1. The Accord is an independent agreement designed to make all garment factories in Bangladesh safe workplaces. It is a five-year independent agreement that was set to expire in May 2018 but has been extended several times.
How Pressure From Fashion Buyers Make Significant Local Improvements Difficult.
International companies that use Bangladeshi garment factories have also improved working conditions and safety regulations in their supply chains. Many activists, however, argue that these corporations must do more to ensure that their suppliers provide safe working conditions and fair wages.
Historically, the workers’ predicament has frequently been blamed on the factory owners. It should be noted, however, that many of these owners are operating on a near-breakeven basis, with buyers from retailers and brands all over the world unwilling to pay more for the items they are sourcing from Bangladesh.
Continued Efforts To Positively Impact The Supply Chain Is Still Required.
The Rana Plaza disaster drew attention to Bangladesh’s garment factories’ poor working conditions and lack of safety regulations. Ten years later, we should remember that, while some progress has been made, much more needs to be done to protect workers from abuse and exploitation. This obviously includes ensuring that workers benefit from stronger safety regulations as well as fair wages.
To accomplish this, they must enlist the help of their clientele. Recognising that educating consumers to see value as the most important factor when purchasing clothing has brought about a number of negative consequences, may be a good place to start.
To make sure that workers are not subjected to exploitation or dangerous conditions, the garment industry must continue to evolve beyond the throw-away fashion model and continue to increase efforts to work towards ensuring safe working conditions for all workers.