DHAKA, Bangladesh – In April of this year, the people of Bangladesh endured one of the worst tragedies in the nation’s history. In Dhaka, the capitol of Bangladesh, a commercial building known as Rana Plaza suddenly collapsed, injuring over 1,1000 Bangladeshi people. Rana Plaza was the home to a large number of textile mills that supplied apparel for various companies, including Benetton, Walmart and Primark. The building’s collapse led to a series of protests regarding the unsanitary and unsafe working conditions in textile mills.
Because textiles and fabric manufacturing make up 80% of Bangladesh’s income, there are over 4 million people in these industries. Most men, women and children who work in these mills risk their lives 12 hours a day for a mere £25 a month. Though Bangladesh is in the news for this tragedy, many other countries also subject their people to unsafe work conditions.
The Global Poverty Project, an organization that aims to ameliorate poverty across the globe, has created a campaign known as See Through Fashion to encourage consumers to address the lack of transparency within the fashion industry. Because of this lack of industrial transparency, it is very difficult for consumers to track where their clothing comes from and whether the manufacturers subject their employees to poor working conditions.
See Through Fashion calls upon the United Kingdom’s five biggest street retailers to sign the Bangladesh Workers’ Safety Accord during London Fashion Week. So far, the campaign has gained support from Arcadia, River Island and Matalan retailers; however, many other retailers refuse to accept accountability for the unsafe working conditions of Rana Plaza.
Everyday citizens can get involved in the movement by contacting British retailers to encourage them to sign the Bangladesh Workers’ Safety Accord. Improved working conditions and higher wages will help these men, women and children who work in the textile industry combat living in poverty.
– Lienna Feleke-Eshete
Sources: NY Times, Global Citizen, Global Poverty Project, NY Times