In April 2013 Rana Plaza, a factory in Bangladesh, collapsed and left over 1100 of it’s workers dead. Many of whom are still missing in the rubble. The Rana Plaza collapse is a stark symbol of exploitation within the fashion industry as even after workers raised concerns about seeing cracks in the building, they were forced back inside in order to meet brand’s large orders. It was this collapse that inspired the creation of KTO and continues to remind us why ethical fashion is so key.
This year marks the 5 year anniversary of Rana Plaza and we want to ask: has the industry changed? and is there anything we can celebrate?
We think yes! And here are 5 reasons why:
Not only have 38 people now been charged of murder, including factory owner Sohal Rana who attempted to flee in a 4 day man-hunt, but The Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund has raised $30million to be paid in compensation for the workers! Although it is close to impossible to truly compensate those caught in the Rana Plaza collapse, this is a huge step forward in recognising the justice these workers deserve.
After the collapse, two agreements were formed: The Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. Combined, the Accord and the Alliance represent 1900 factories that have direct contracts with major brands! The Accord alone has 200+ brands committed to only working with the 1600+ factories that adhere to the Accord. Despite criticisms of the Accord and Alliance signatories lagging on their commitments, we still celebrate the huge advancements being made to protect workers and the symbolic commitments to their safety!
Relaxed government laws on unions after the collapse resulted in 50 unions being formed within the 1st year alone. Workers still face extreme dangers, including death threats, when forming unions, but there have been some fantastic successes seen through their work. Ananta Garment Factory is a unionised factory and when workers spotted cracks in the wall, much like Rana Plaza, they were able to take it to management, leading to necessary repairs being made and full compensation granted for working days missed during repairs! And that’s just one factory’s union! Read about the National Garment Workers Federations achievements here.
TransparencySomething we are particularly excited by is the recent Apparel and Footwear Supply Chain Transparency Pledge!
17 out of 72 apparel and footwear companies contacted by the Human Rights Watch led coalition, have agreed to implement the transparency pledge! It is a small percentage but represents a huge step forward for transparency in an industry plagued by secrecy.
“After Rana Plaza and other disasters, human rights groups, unions and some companies and investors have seen how important transparency is for preventing abuses and for efforts at accountability”Ben Vanperstraete, Clean Clothes Campaign
And you! You guys are one of the greatest reasons to celebrate! There has been a huge shift since Rana Plaza in what customers are demanding from their purchases, and sustainability is at the top of that list. When we realise our money is the power to vote for change, then it has the ability to transform an industry!
So keep it up and let’s celebrate more achievements over the next 5 years!