10 years have passed since the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh, where thousands of people lost their lives under the rubble of the structure that housed workers in the textile industry.
The collapse of Rana Plaza
It was exactly April 24, 2013 when 1,132 people lost their lives in the surroundings of Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh due to the collapse of the Rana Plaza building. The 9-storey structure housed hundreds and hundreds of textile operators and the disaster occurred due to the lack of care of the workplace and the lack of safety for workers in the sector. The tragedy, then, opened an important discourse on the sustainability of fashion not only in terms of environmental pollution, but also and above all in human terms of productivity. How many lives does the frantic impulse to buy more and more at ever lower prices cost us? In addition to the certified dead, more than 2,500 injured survivors of the rubble have been identified a few months after the death of another 100 colleagues for the same reason, in a city near Dhaka.
The exploitation of fashion workers in Bangladesh (and beyond)
Bangladesh produces 45 billion dollars in clothes every year, which represent 80% of the country’s total exports, generated by the 4 million inhabitants (out of 169,000) who work in clothing companies. For them, there are practically no trade union rights: most workers in this category earn around 70 euros a month and are forced to work in conditions of constant danger, despite working for brands with an international reputation and considerable economic power. Brands that, despite the injustice they themselves created, have often refused to “put in the money” to repay the families of the victims, since the gesture would have engraved with “an admission of guilt”, as Deborah Lucchetti explains for Lifegate , the Italian coordinator of the Clean Clothes campaign.
Events after 10 years
Precisely on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building, many Bangladeshi citizens gathered today in Dhaka to demonstrate against a (non) work culture and against the system that oppresses workers in the textile manufacturing sector, causing thousands of dead. Despite the fact that an international agreement was signed in 2013 for the purpose of protection, binding between companies and local trade unions of workers in the textile industry, other tragedies have occurred. Like when, in 2017, a boiler explosion killed at least 10 employees, also in the city of Dhaka. As Bangladesh’s Economy Minister, Tipu Munshi, stated, the country is unfortunately still far behind in terms of the conditions necessary to comply with the agreements on the detection and safety of staff and laboratories.