Remembering Rana Plaza

Words: Sophie Henderson

Five years today, on the 24 April 2013, Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza took less than 90 seconds to collapse. 1,134 people lost their lives in it’s tragic downfall. Another 2,500 were injured.

And not only did the atrocity highlight a grave injustice in manufacturing, it broached of a distressing and neoteric fast-fashion industry. We were ultimately exposed to the true cost of our clothing.

Rana Plaza consisted of five garment factories, all producing garments for global brands. The victims were mostly young women, and abhorrently, workers were threatened with loss of their monthly pay if they did not proceed into work that day.

Cracks were identified the day before, and without any form of union representation workers had no collective strength. Some time before 9am, floors began to vanish and workers started falling.

So has anything actually changed?

With the introduction of the Bangladesh Accord on Building & Fire Safety, 1.8 million garment workers have received factory safety information. However in 2017, Bangladesh still saw 426 people dying in 321 workplace accidents.

Alongside this, only 10% of Bangladesh’s more than 4,500 garment factories have registered unions.

Remembering the collapse, it seems adequate to say that fast-fashion is not cheaper. Someone ‘different’, somewhere else, is paying.