On April 24th, at least 400 garment workers- mostly young women- in Bangladesh lost their lives as their factory building collapsed on top of them. Rana Plaza was an illegally constructed eight story building that was home to five different garment factories, who manufactured for retailers such as J.C. Penney, Mango, Joe Fresh, and Walmart.
The devastating accident came not even five months after a a factory fire killed 112 people and underscored the unsafe conditions faced by Bangladesh’s garment workers, who produce clothes for global brands worn around the world. Workers said they had hesitated to enter the building on Wednesday morning because it had developed such large cracks a day earlier that it even drew the attention of local news channels. Just hours later it came tumbling down, killing hundreds, many of whom are still trapped nearly a week later.
The rescue efforts have been intense–for nearly twelve hours, rescuers tried to save a trapped woman, lowering dry food and juice to her as they carefully cut through the wreckage trying to reach her. But then a fire broke out, apparently killing the woman, leaving many firefighters in tears. With stories like these and more coming out, national outrage has boiled over. Bangladeshi paramilitary officers tracked down and arrested Sohel Rana, the owner of the building, who was hiding near the Indian border, and returned him by helicopter to Dhaka. When loudspeakers at the rescue site announced his capture earlier in the day, local news reports said, the crowd broke out in cheers.
We’re angry, LivLunatics. This could have been prevented. Who is responsible for this mass murder? Is it only the building owner? What about the corporations making their clothes there? In 2011, a proposal to upgrade factories in Bangladesh, and give an independent monitoring body the power to shut down unsafe factories was rejected by numerous big brands, including H&M, Gap, Walmart- they didn’t want to pay, or be liable. Garment workers in Bangladesh get paid an average of $37 a MONTH, while these brands make a killing- at the cost of how many more garment workers lives?