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Never again: Canada’s unions mark 10 years since the Rana Plaza factory collapse

April 24, 2023

On April 24, 2023, the United Steelworkers join our voices to other Canadian unions to mark the 10th anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster. Please see this joint statement from the Canadian Labour Congress below.

On April 24, workers in Bangladesh and across the globe will gather to mark the anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse and mourn the loss of the more than 1,100 workers who were killed. Over 2,500 workers and their families continue to live with the aftermath of serious injuries sustained in one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

Compounding this immense tragedy, is the fact that workers had refused to enter the factory because cracks in the walls had been spotted the day before, but were ordered back to work to avoid costly production delays.

“Rana Plaza exposed the dire conditions for workers in these factories that produce the world’s garments: poor wages, unsafe working conditions, precarious work, and intimidation and harassment in the workplace. Garment workers not only in Bangladesh, but around the world, are still working in absolutely appalling conditions and receiving unfair wages for their labour. It is way past time for things to change,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Canada’s unions, representing 3 million workers, have supported Bangladesh workers in their struggle for decent working conditions and the right to form independent unions to represent workers. We are part of allied networks pushing the government to enact robust legislation to mandate human rights obligations in the supply chains of Canadian companies.

On this grim anniversary, Canada’s unions stand in solidarity with workers in the garment sector in Bangladesh who are demanding respect for their human rights, including freedom of association, healthy and safe working conditions, and a living wage.

In order to effectively prevent the next Rana Plaza, we call on the Canadian Government to:

  • Introduce mandatory human rights due diligence legislation that requires Canadian companies, and companies that import goods into Canada, to respect human rights throughout their supply chains;
  • Promote and protect the right to organize and bargain collectively as key enabling rights, without which decent work cannot take place; and
  • Make trade preferences dependent on the respect for workers’ right to organize.

We call on Canadian clothing brands to:

  • Sign the International Accord, the continuation of the Bangladesh Accord on Building and Fire Safety, which brought massive success in health and safety inspections and repairs to thousands of factories. When the Accord expires, it should be renewed as a legally binding, enforceable agreement, expanded to more countries for the long-term;
  • End the race to the bottom borne by workers, by providing living wages and living wage compensation for workers suffering injury or death in the workplace across their supply chains; and
  • Take responsibility for financing a permanent Employment Injury Scheme (EIS) in Bangladesh to compensate workers injured at work.

Click here to add your voice to the struggle by leaving a message commemorating victims of the Rana Plaza disaster on a virtual memorial, and by calling on major international brands to sign the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry, ensure workplace safety and recognize the rights of workers to organize, refuse unsafe work and raise health and safety concerns.

The statement of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)

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