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Are Rana factors benefiting Bangladesh?


Sohel Rana, the owner of the collapsed Rana Plaza is behind the bar. The trial process progressed little and many stakeholders who has given green lights go ahead in building Rana Plaza are still untouched. However on 24th of April,16 the calendar completed 3 years since the eight storied building named  Rana Plaza located at Savar in Bangladesh collapsed and buried approx. 1134 garment workers.

There have been many discussions on the event and its aftermath. This article would find briefly the Rana Plaza factors prevailing here and there.

 Union leaders and victims are not happy

Apart from death victims around 2000 workers were injured and many of them were maimed. Union leaders expressed their dissatisfaction over long pending trial process. Many injured are passing miserable time. They could not return to normal life because of long-term physical ailments and psychological disorders that developed as a result of the accident. Hardly are they getting any support now from Rana Plaza stakeholders.

Non-government organisation Action Aid Bangladesh recently published a survey report on Rana Plaza victims where they said 58.4 percent of the victims are still traumatized after three years into the world’s deadliest garment-factory accident.

A committee immediately formed by the court to measure the causality and compensation for the victims reported that at least 150 people, including 46 with spiral cord injury and 25 amputees, needed prolonged treatment.

Accidents continued

In February 2016 a huge fire broke out at H&M supplier Matrix Sweaters, and deadly casualties were only prevented because workers had not yet arrived for their first shift. There were several other accidents in the sector in last three years. Though none of them was so big in terms of casualties but the toll could be either way if those were in a wrong time. However the incidents shows that the initiatives may have improved the situation but could not fully resist the accidents.

Exports are growing well


Despite some minor turbulence RMG export rise was steady through three years. Trade bodies mentioned that Rana Plaza incident slowed the growth but could not stop. However they hover that if the accident was not there we could reach much higher. Mixed feedback on Accord & Alliance:

Industry leader BGMEA expressed satisfaction over results of Accord and Alliance inspection. They claim only 2% of the factories inspected found to be in appropriate. However they are fixing their problems. Meanwhile reports mentioned that more than half of H&M’s top suppliers based in Bangladesh have yet to install basic fire-safety measures more than three years after the Rana Plaza factory collapse. More than a third of H&M’s top-rated “gold” and “platinum” graded suppliers have not removed sliding doors and collapsible gates, according to a report by workers’ rights groups, including the Clean Clothes Campaign. Some of the factories declared ineligible for exporting for Accord and Alliance signing brands.

Meanwhile BGMEA perceives the inspection result very positively. They think programs like Accord and Alliance is helping the country to be established as a safe place for garment manufacturing. They admit that garment manufacturing worldwide always carries risks and hazards for workers and environment, but programs taken after Rana Plaza has helped them being much safer place compared to the rival garment manufacturers like China, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Murder charges for the accused

Bangladeshi court opts for more severe charges against 41 people including the owner of the Rana Plaza who have been accused for killing approx. 1134 people.

Investigators initially said the accused would be charged with culpable homicide, but they shifted to the more severe charges after the investigation found that building owner Sohel Rana, his staff and the management of the five garment factories had forced workers to enter the building just before it collapsed even though the workers feared doing so because major cracks had developed in the structure a day earlier. Consumers are still yelling: Consumer protests are still emerging on delays of remediation activities. Right activists organization like ‘Clean Clothes Campaign’ have asked major brands like H&M to do more for risk free manufacturing in Bangladesh and elsewhere.


Social and humanitarian programs continue

Like some other initiatives to provide humanitarian supports to Rana Plaza victims, Laura Siegel, a Canadian designer who works with artisans in India and South America, launched Project 1127, a collaboration with Sreepur Village Organization to sell 1,127 handwoven scarves-one for each life lost. The proceeds from each scarf will directly assist the families of the victims, but Siegel also hopes it will revive the global conversation about garment industry issues. Such programs are running by some other organizations also.


Change of mindset!

The building collapse triggered uproar for reforms in a sector that helps the country to change its socio economic demography. If bounty of exports doesn’t help the poor workers rather put their life in danger the benefits of such industry doesn’t really remains to Bangladesh. So, it is understandable that the brands supports were because of their consumers’ pressure on them to be more safer in their production. But for manufacturing country Bangladesh, it is important that government perceive it as a right of its people. There is no meaning of putting life in danger and earning $100 per month. Such job even doesn’t provide any retire life pensions.

After three years even it is being observed that the approach is not changed properly. Different counter parts of the industry still passes ball of responsibility to each other’s court. While none bear the whole responsibility of such happenings, Government must take the responsibility and make sure that garment and other industries are safe and sound not because it is need for getting GSP back from USA but because it is needed for Bangladeshi people.

If the mindset is not changed none of the positive changed mentioned will be sustainable and the negative issues will be resolved never.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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