Two years after Rana Plaza

ARTICLE | 23 April 2015
Foto: Shafiur Rahman

Two years after the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza building, safety conditions in the factories have improved. But more than half of the survivors are still unemployed and most of them are still suffering from depression and trauma.

The Rana Plaza incident led to a unique collaboration between the Bangladeshi government, international brands, suppliers, entrepreneurs, NGOs and workers to work towards a safe and sustainable garment industry. The joint initiatives have made progress on improving fire and building safety in the garments factories. But garment workers in Bangladesh are still facing many challenges. Verbal and physical abuse at the work place, increased pressure to reach productivity targets within ordinary working hours, forced overtime and denial of paid maternity leave are common complaints from the workers, according to Human Rights Watch.

Recent reports show that living conditions are still very poor for workers who were severely injured and for the families of those who died in the accident. More than 60 percent of the survivors still need regular treatment for their physical injuries and psychological trauma, but many face financial constraints to receive adequate care. According to Action Aid and Center for Policy Dialogue more than half of the survivors are still unemployed and for those who are employed, the income is not enough to afford basic necessities, such as schooling for their children.

A fund that was set up by the International Labor Organization has yet to reach its 30 million USD target, thus leaving many of those affected by Rana Plaza without compensation.

Bangladesh has one of the world’s lowest minimum wages and is the second largest exporter of western clothing brands. Industrial growth is needed if Bangladesh is to become a middle-income country but it should not come at the expense of worker’s life and dignity.

Text: Sanjida Shamsher Elora

Sources: Human Rights Watch, Action Aid, Centre for Policy Dialogue