After 10 year of the disaster of Ran plaza in Bangladesh Each day, 7,500 people die from unsafe and unhealthy working conditions. (United Nations Global Compact, 2023)
On 24 April 2013, 1,134 people were killed and at least another 2,000 injured in the collapse of a factory building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where clothing was being made for international brands
The Rana Plaza building, which housed several garment factories, collapsed, killing at least 1,134 people and injuring more than 2,000 others. The incident is considered to be one of the worst industrial disasters in history and highlighted the poor working conditions and safety issues that exist in many factories in Bangladesh.
The Rana Plaza building was built on unstable ground and had several unauthorized floors added on top of the original structure, which made the building unstable. Despite concerns about the safety of the building, many workers were forced to continue working in the factories housed in the building.
According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, it is estimated that approximately 1,100 of the 1,134 people who died in the Rana Plaza disaster were women, many of whom were young girls. The exact number of girls and women who were involved in the disaster is difficult to determine with precision, but it is clear that they made up the vast majority of the victims.
The high number of female victims underscores the gender inequalities that exist in many industries, particularly in developing countries where women and girls are often employed in low-wage, precarious work. The disaster highlighted the urgent need to address these inequalities and to ensure that all workers, regardless of gender, are able to work in safe and fair conditions.
The Rana Plaza disaster had far-reaching consequences for human rights, particularly in the areas of workers' rights and corporate responsibility. The incident highlighted the urgent need to improve working conditions and safety in the global garment industry and brought attention to the human rights abuses that often occur in global supply chains. Some of the consequences of the Rana Plaza disaster in terms of human rights include:
Improved working conditions and safety: The disaster prompted calls for greater accountability and transparency in the global garment industry, and many companies and governments have since taken steps to improve working conditions and safety in factories. The Bangladesh government, for example, passed a new labor law that includes provisions to improve workers' rights and safety, and many international brands have committed to improving working conditions and safety in their supply chains.
Increased focus on corporate responsibility: The Rana Plaza disaster sparked a global conversation about corporate responsibility and the role of companies in ensuring respect for human rights in their operations and supply chains. Many companies have since implemented policies and programs to address human rights risks in their supply chains and to ensure that their operations are aligned with human rights principles.
Greater recognition of workers' rights: The Rana Plaza disaster brought greater attention to the human rights of workers in the global garment industry, particularly women and girls who are often employed in low-wage, precarious work. The incident highlighted the need for greater recognition of workers' rights, including the right to safe and fair working conditions, the right to organize and bargain collectively, and the right to a living wage.
Support for victims and their families: The Rana Plaza disaster led to the creation of several compensation funds for victims and their families, and many international organizations and NGOs have worked to support the long-term recovery and rehabilitation of survivors. The incident also highlighted the need for greater access to justice for victims of human rights abuses, particularly in developing countries where legal systems may be weak or ineffective.
The Rana Plaza disaster had a significant impact on the position of many companies related to social responsibility, particularly in the garment industry. In the aftermath of the tragedy, many companies faced public scrutiny and criticism for their failure to ensure safe working conditions and protect the human rights of workers in their supply chains. Some of the positions that companies have taken in response to the disaster and in relation to social responsibility include:
Improved transparency: Many companies have taken steps to improve transparency in their supply chains and to provide greater visibility into their sourcing practices. This includes disclosing the factories and suppliers that they work with and providing information on working conditions and safety standards.
Increased accountability: In response to the Rana Plaza disaster, many companies have taken steps to increase their accountability for human rights abuses in their supply chains. This includes implementing due diligence processes to identify and mitigate risks, conducting regular audits and inspections of factories, and taking steps to address violations when they occur.
Stronger commitments to workers' rights: The Rana Plaza disaster prompted many companies to strengthen their commitments to workers' rights, including the right to safe and fair working conditions, the right to organize and bargain collectively, and the right to a living wage. Some companies have also established programs to support workers' empowerment and to improve their access to education, healthcare, and other basic services.
Increased collaboration: The Rana Plaza disaster highlighted the need for greater collaboration among companies, governments, and civil society organizations to address human rights abuses in global supply chains. Many companies have since joined multi-stakeholder initiatives and partnerships to promote greater accountability and transparency in the industry and to support the rights of workers and communities affected by their operations.
The incident highlights the importance of achieving Target 8.8 of Goal 8 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aims to protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including those in precarious employment.
In particular, the Rana Plaza disaster underscores the need to improve working conditions and safety in the global garment industry, which is a major employer of women migrants and workers in precarious employment. Achieving Target 8.8 requires action from governments, businesses, civil society, and other stakeholders to promote full and productive employment and decent work for all, and to ensure that workers' rights are respected and protected.
Goal 8 (“Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”), Target 8.8: Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments of all workers, including migrant workers, particularly women migrants, and those in precarious employment.
Some of the steps that can be taken to achieve Target 8.8 in relation to the garment industry and other sectors include:
Strengthening labour laws and regulations to protect workers' rights and safety.
Improving monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance with labour standards and safety regulations.
Encouraging responsible business practices and supply chain management, including due diligence processes to identify and mitigate human rights risks.
Promoting collective bargaining and other forms of worker empowerment to ensure that workers have a voice and can advocate for their rights and safety.
Supporting education and training programs to improve workers' skills and employment opportunities.
Achieving Target 8.8 is critical for promoting sustainable economic growth and development, and for ensuring that workers are able to enjoy safe, secure, and decent work. The tragic events of the Rana Plaza disaster serve as a powerful reminder of the urgent need to take action to protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers.
The following resources provide further information on how businesses can address occupational safety and health risks in their operations and supply chains:
ILO and United Nations Global Compact, Nine Business Practices for Improving Safety and Health Through Supply Chains and Building a Culture of Prevention and Protection: This report identifies practices that businesses can implement to advance decent work and improve occupational safety and health globally, especially when operating in countries with deficient national safety and health and employment injury protection schemes.
ILO, Occupational Safety and Health in Global Value Chains Starterkit: This tool provides guidance on how to map drivers and constraints for OSH improvements integrating safety and health approaches throughout the value chain, and provides case studies on the agriculture and garment industry.
ISO, 45001: Occupational Health and Safety Standard: The first international standard on safety and health, which builds on OHSAS18001 and is structured in a similar way as other ISO management systems (such as ISO 14001 or ISO 9001).
The Rana Plaza disaster had a significant impact on women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh, particularly those involved in the garment industry. Many women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh have historically played a key role in driving economic growth and development, and the garment industry has been an important source of employment for women in the country. The incident has highlighted the critical role of women entrepreneurs in driving economic growth and development, while also underscoring the need for greater action to promote safe and secure working environments and protect the human rights of all workers in global supply chains.
Overall, the Rana Plaza disaster was a wake-up call for the garment industry and has led to significant changes in the positions of many companies related to social responsibility. While there is still much work to be done to ensure that workers' rights are respected and protected in global supply chains, the incident has spurred greater awareness, accountability, and action on these critical issues.
Pic Mumtahina Tanni
Sources and biography
Rana Plaza Collapse: A Case Study on the Impacts of Garment Industry on Workers and Environment" by Zakia Naznin, published in the International Journal of Social Ecology and Sustainable Development.
"The Rana Plaza Disaster: A Wake-up Call for Global Supply Chain Management" by Surajit Bag and Pradip Kumar Bala, published in the Journal of Human Rights and Social Work.
"The Rana Plaza Disaster: Corporate Social Responsibility in the Global Garment Industry" by John E. Gordon and Darryl Reed, published in the Journal of Business Ethics.
"Rana Plaza and the Bangladesh Garment Industry: The Challenge of Making Globalization Work for Workers' Rights" by Mark Anner, Jennifer Bair, Jeremy Blasi, and Niklas Egels-Zandén, published in the Globalizations journal.
"The Rana Plaza Disaster: A Case Study of the Governance of Global Value Chains" by Andreas Rühmkorf and Peter Lund-Thomsen, published in the Journal of Business Ethics.
"Rana Plaza Five Years On: Ensuring Workers' Rights and Safety in Bangladesh's Garment Industry" by the International Labour Organization.
"Corporate Social Responsibility and Global Supply Chains: Lessons from the Rana Plaza Disaster" by Jonathan J. Halpern, published in the Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics.
Occupational Safety and Health.United Nations Global Compact, 2023
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