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Bangladesh community marks anniversary of garment factory disaster

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Apr 24, 2014 - 4:33 PM |
This was the aftermath of the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh April 24, 2013. The disaster killed 1,129 and injured 2,215 others. Supplied photo.

This was the aftermath of the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh April 24, 2013. The disaster killed 1,129 and injured 2,215 others. Supplied photo.

Westerners addicted to cheap clothes, prof says

On April 24, 2013, an eight-story building in Bangladesh called the Rana Plaza collapsed, killing 1,129 and injuring 2,215 others.

The building contained several clothing factories, as well as other businesses and apartments. There had been warnings to avoid the building after cracks appeared, but garment workers had been ordered back to work.

The disaster highlighted an ugly truth — the fact that many clothes purchased by people in affluent western countries are made by Bangladeshi workers who earn about $68 a month and endure dangerous working conditions.

To mark the one-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, the Bangladesh Canada Association of Sudbury is holding a rally on Lasalle Boulevard starting at 5:30 p.m. April 24, just outside the New Sudbury Centre.

Laurentian University economics professor Sadequl Islam, one of the organizers, said the rally is designed not only to remember the victims of Rana Plaza, but also to raise awareness of the human cost of sweatshops and put moral pressure of brand companies to contribute to a Donors' Trust Fund for the victims.

Islam, who is originally from Bangladesh himself and wrote a book a decade ago about the country's garment industry, said these companies are also under pressure to ensure their clothes are humanely produced.

So far, though, it's mostly European companies who have signed onto an accord making these kinds of promises, he said.

The Bangladesh garment industry is mostly a product of westerners' addiction to cheap fashion, Islam said.

“You've heard that expression the race to the bottom,” he said. “All these retail companies, they want clothes as cheap as possible.”

If westerners are willing to purchase cans of tuna labelled dolphin friendly or coffee labelled fair trade, they'd likely pay a little more for clothes labelled worker friendly, Islam said.
Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer


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