Yesterday marked 5 years since the catastrophic collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh where over 1100 people died and approximately 2500 were injured. This is the deadliest garment factory accident in history, as everyone else who worked in the building in banks and shops had already been evacuated with only garment workers ordered to return even after the first cracks were discovered in the building.
The catastrophe pushed all actors – western brands, the EU, local authorities – to cooperate with the International Labour Organisation and trade union movement and commit to binding rules and a recent European Parliament resolution concluded that it is the shared duty of governments, the local private sector, the international community and business partners to contribute to achieving responsible business conduct as an overarching goal. This has been a massive push for the workers’ rights agenda globally.
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP co-sponsored a Rana Plaza picture exhibition which called for mandatory due diligence and business responsibility rules to be implemented in order to protect today’s garment workers, 70% of whom are women. The inauguration took place yesterday in the European Parliament in Brussels. As part of the event, MEPs were encouraged to send a postcard to Jean-Claude Junker, calling on him to deliver a legislative proposal through which EU retailers will need to demonstrate that their suppliers respect fundamental workers’ rights.