The scene of the tragedy

Exactly five years ago today, clothing workers in Bangladesh were urged back into the Rana Plaza factory, even though an engineer had declared the building unsafe.  Over a thousand were crushed to death when the building collapsed. The death toll would eventually come to 1,134.

That these workers were making clothing for our High Street stores makes this our tragedy. We cannot escape our share of responsibility for what happened that day. Nor can the companies who commissioned work from the factories.

For their part, many, to be fair, signed up to one or other of the two agreements put in place after the catastrophe (see here and here).

Of these, the Accord is the stronger instrument. It is about to come to an end, but a successor agreement (the Transition Accord) has been reached and some 150 companies have signed it. You can check the list here.

In a recent video I drew connections between the struggle to abolish slavery, the civil rights movement and Rana Plaza; you can watch that here.

But for probably the most moving treatment of the topic, the extraordinary site created by the Guardian, here, remains the best resource of which I am aware in terms of the human dimension.

Watch it, remember the 1,134, and let’s urge our High Street companies to uphold the accord. Let’s make Rana Plaza a turning point – by far the best way we can honour the dead.

Maurice Macartney

24 April 2018