We interviewed the Director of the BBC 2 documentary ‘Clothes to Die for’ about the people affected by the Rana Plaza disaster.
The Rana Plaza Factory collapse site in Bangladesh Photo: Taslima Akhter
I wrote about this in my book in an article called ‘The Real Fashion Victims’ here is an excerpt:
The majority of new clothes, whether luxury or mass-market, are manufactured in Asian factories. Doing so keeps costs low and margins high. Bangladesh has a minimum wage of $38 a month making it particularly attractive to many retailers and brands. It also has appallingly lax health and safety laws. Vulnerable garment workers – eighty per cent of whom are women – work long hours in substandard facilities, without benefits and for little compensation. According to a 2012 report from the International Labor Rights Forum, over one thousand garment workers have been killed since 1990 in preventable factory fires. Corruption is rife and since factory owners make up some ten per cent of the Bangladeshi parliament the consequences for criminal negligence are few. On 24 April 2013, just outside Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital city, the eight-storey Rana Plaza factory collapsed, killing over 1,100 garment workers and injuring over 2,500 more. Extensive media coverage and outrage around the world helped the Clean Clothes Campaign and global union Industrial convince many Western brands and retailers to sign the enforceable Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which should improve the working conditions in all Bangladeshi factories. More than seventy foreign companies, from Primark to Abercrombie & Fitch, signed the accord in the three months following the accident, a huge step forward in creating better working conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers. But other companies refused.