Green Party MEP Jean Lambert has urged support for one of the several events in the UK commemorating the Rana Plaza factory disaster, which took place exactly a year ago.
Some 1133 people were killed and over 2500 were injured – mostly workers in the Ready-Made Garment industry supplying clothes to UK High Streets – when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Jean Lambert visited Bangladesh last month as chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation to South Asia to discuss a wide range of political topics, including workers’ rights and factory safety.
Tomorrow she will mark the anniversary by visiting a garment factory in Finsbury Park, North London, to compare conditions faced by workers in the UK and Bangladesh.
The she will take part in a ‘Flash Mob’ on Oxford Street organised by ‘Fashion Revolution’ – a global campaign run by insiders calling for the fashion industry to clean up its supply chains.
Fashion revolution are urging people to wear clothes inside out for the day – so as to display the manufacturers’ label – to raise awareness of the Rana Plaza disaster.
Speaking at a recent conference on workers’ rights in the ready-made garment industry organised with aid charity Care International last week, the London Green MEP welcomed the ‘good’ progress being made on the appointment of factory inspectors, inspection of buildings and changes to Bangladesh’s employment law.
Jean Lambert said she was pleased that over 100 unions have been formed in the garment sector in the last year.
But she said there were still problems making sure all victims of the factory collapse and the earlier Tasreen factory fire received compensation – as not all companies selling the clothes made at Rana Plaza have paid into a compensation fund agreed last year.
“There remain problems – not just in relation to full compensation, but also in terms of what happens to workers and their jobs if a factory is found to be unsafe and forced to close,” she said.
“But the willingness is there from many stakeholders to make progress and better the living conditions and wages of the workers.
“The European Parliament will be watching to ensure that progress is maintained and that workers – many of whom are women – will be able to make a decent living in safe conditions.”