Making global supply chains safe for workers: Nine years after the Rana Plaza collapse

April 24th marks the anniversary of one of the world’s worst and avoidable industrial accidents. Rana Plaza, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, was home to garment factories supplying international garment brands. When it collapsed, more than 1,100 garment workers were killed and another 2,500 workers were seriously injured. This tragedy has drawn global attention to the exploitation and dangerous health and safety conditions facing millions of workers in the global supply chains. 

“Every year on this sad anniversary, we reaffirm our pledge to work every day so that no workers die at their jobs,” says Bea Bruske, CLC President. “Canadian companies must take responsibility to ensure workers making their goods are doing so in safe conditions, everywhere in the world.” 

Canada’s unions have been supporting workers in the Global South and demanding that government and companies introduce policy and practices that respect rights, improve working conditions and pay a living wage. 

We work closely with the Bangladesh Center for Workers’ Solidarity, which trains Bangladesh’s garment sector workers on their rights at work and supports unions in promoting and defending the respect of freedom of association and collective bargaining. 

Again, today we call on Canadian brands sourcing clothing in Bangladesh to sign the binding International Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which makes retailers liable to legal action if their factories fail to meet labour safety standards. The extension of the Accord to other countries will help ensure a disaster like Rana Plaza never happens again. 

Canada’s labour movement continues to lobby for strong Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence legislation in Canada to require companies to review all their business activities to identify actual and potential risks to people and the environment, take steps to mitigate those risks and ensure remedy for those harmed. 

Last month, Canada’s unions declared support for two bills recently tabled in the House of Commons that will ensure Canadian companies respect human rights and the environment throughout their supply chains and ensure independent investigation when cases of rights violations are brought forward. 

Global campaigns are calling on companies to keep workers safe. You can help by sending a message to global brands to sign the International Accord to ensure factories in Bangladesh meet safety standards and keep workers safe. Visit the Clean Clothes Campaign’s Rana Plaza Never Again remembrance page to send your message. 

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