Exactly one year ago, more than 1,100 textile workers died when a huge Bangladeshi textile factory collapsed. Aside from the commemoration, people are asking to finally give more (financial) aid.
1 year later: "A bit more safe, but ..."
In Bangladesh (and several other places all around the world) people commemorate the more than 1,100 casualties and 2,500 wounded people of the country's biggest factory accident, when the 8-floor Rana Plaza collapsed exactly one year ago. Flowers were placed at the disaster site and nearby factories are draped in black flags. A suburb of the capital Dhaka welcomed thousands of people who came together to commemorate the victims.
At the same time, people are calling for the owners of the building and the factory to take their responsibility and to finally pay the victims what they are due. The drama brought the abominable working conditions in the Bangladeshi textile factory to light, forcing Western companies to carry out more safety inspections on-site. It also helped bring up the minimum wage for factory workers.
There is a 'but': only 700 out of more than 5,000 Bangladeshi factories have been inspected so far, with only 2,000 to 3,500 scheduled to get inspections, depending on the source. There also is disunion among the buyers as some 150 (mostly European) brands like H&M and Inditex have signed one agreement on fire and building safety in Bangladesh, while a smaller number of North American companies (like Walmart and Gap) joined the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.
The issue is that both organisations think differently about certain issues. The American companies in the Alliance state that they have performed more inspections than those who have signed the other agreement, but the latter complain that these inspections were done less thoroughly.
Complaint against French chain Auchan
Auchan has always denied any association with the disaster, despite the fact that its labels were found in the rubble, which has led to painful and image-damaging lawsuits. According to Auchan, it was the "victim of hidden subcontractors as we have no direct or indirect link to any of the companies present in that factory".
That is why Auchan has always refused to support the fund for Bangladesh with a financial contribution. Three French NGO's did not put up with that train of thought and headed to Lille's public prosecutor to file an official complaint against the French distributor.