On Friday Bangladeshi Police fired tear-gas and rubber bullets at relatives as they massed at the site of a collapsed factory where rescue workers were attempting to dig out hundreds trapped under rubble.
About 3,000 people are thought to have been in the Rana Plaza complex in Savar industrial zone on the outskirts of Dhaka, when it collapsed on the morning of April 24 shortly after the workday started. Only some 60 have been found alive; some 1,000 are thought to have escaped unharmed. The complex housed factories that made clothes for retail chains Benetton, Primark (Penneys), Matalan, Children’s Place, Cato Fashions, Mango and others.
Some workers are said to have reported a crack in the building’s facade shortly before the incident, but their warnings went unheeded. Blogs Michelle Chen for Working In These Times:
“Some were told to report to work anyway or risk losing a month’s wages. With minimum pay set below $40 per month (about the retail price of a typical sweater they might produce), workers could ill afford to be concerned about their safety, and so they followed orders and reported to what would be for many their last day of work.”
Western consumers are very culpable as our demand for low-cost fashions and blind-eye to the rights of foreign workers allows multinationals hoover up massive profits while condemning people such as those in Bangladesh to lives of grinding poverty and precarious life.
John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch, said the disaster highlights concerns about labour rights in Bangladesh:
“Had one or more of the Rana Plaza factories been unionized, its workers would have been in a position to refuse to enter the building on Wednesday morning, and thus save their lives”
No factory owner has been charged over a worker death in Bangladesh, said Babul Akter, president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation.
“At least 33 members of the current Parliament own garment businesses.”
Benetton had denied any association with the collapsed factories but AFP reports contradict the claims, documentary evidence of an order for 30,000 items as well as photographs of Benetton tags on clothes found in the rubble where possibly as many as 1,000 people lay buried have been published. (see here)
full report : WW4 here