On 24 April, workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan remembered the dead and demanded improved factory safety, and punishment to those responsible for the garment factory tragedy in Bangladesh three years ago.
More than 1,100 workers perished and over 2,500 were injured in the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building in Dhaka on 24 April 2013.
IndustriALL Global Union’s garment and textile affiliates together with affiliates from metal, chemical and shipbreaking sectors, united under the banner of IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC) in a human chain and press conference in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka.
In Pakistan, IndustriALL affiliate the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) organized a rally and press conference at the Karachi press club to extend solidarity and demand justice for the victims of both Rana Plaza and the fire at Ali Enterprises in Pakistan, which killed 254 workers on 11 September 2012.
Workers protesting in Dhaka strongly demanded that the government of Bangladesh start the judicial trial of the owner of Rana Plaza, since justice to the dead and injured will only be fully realized when the people responsible are punished.
Union leaders expressed serious concern that many garment factories are still not safe. While the Accord has delivered many improvements to factory safety, there is much more to be done by factory owners, brands and the government.
IndustriALL regional secretary for South Asia, Apoorva Kaiwar, told the assembled unions that it is unacceptable that, even after Rana Plaza, garment workers are facing serious challenges to exercise their right to freedom of association and suffer extremely low wages and poor working conditions. “IndustriALL will stand together with its affiliates, especially in the RMG sector and support in all possible means actions taken by IBC,” she said.
Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL’s textile and garment director, conveyed the solidarity of IndustriALL’s garment and textile affiliates around the world and called on the workers to strengthen their unity.
Policy director Jenny Holdcroft said: “We must never allow what happened at Rana Plaza to be forgotten. With the solidarity of all IBC unions, not only garment sector, but also steel, shipbreaking and chemical unions, we are strong. Most garment workers still do not have the protection of a union and it is our responsibility to organize them.”
IBC Chair Nazrul Islam Khan recognised the efforts of IndustriALL to bring compensation to victims and called for continued solidarity support to their struggle to win justice for Rana Plaza victims and labour rights for garment workers.