(Savar) Hundreds of workers, including survivors, demonstrated in Bangladesh on Monday demanding justice and paying tribute to the 1,130 people who died in a textile factory collapse 10 years earlier.
On April 24, 2013, a ready-to-wear garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh and flabbergasted Westerners discovered the faces of more than 1,130 workers who had died making their clothes.
The Rana Plaza tragedy, one of the world’s worst industrial disasters, cast a harsh light on the global textile industry’s dependence on factories located in developing countries, where working conditions are often substandard.
Early Monday morning, survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse, some of whom have had limbs amputated or are now crippled, laid wreaths at the site where the building once stood. factory, which made clothes for world famous brands, such as Mango or Primark.
“Ten years have passed, but what happened to the killers? chanted protesters, slowly heading towards the memorial in Savar, west of the capital, Dhaka.
“It’s a scandal that 10 years have passed and the owners of the textile factory and the building have not been punished for the murder of the 1,138 workers”, slams Niloga, a 32-year-old survivor, bursting out his resentment.
“I received almost nothing. My leg was crushed and I can’t work in factories. My husband left me five years ago because he didn’t want to take care of my medical expenses,” she explains, in tears.
“We want full compensation and medical treatment for life because we have lost our ability to work,” said Shila Akhter, 42, whose spinal cord was shattered. “The government should know what we went through. Some survivors are forced to beg in the streets. »
Since the tragedy, union leaders have unanimously recognized the progress made in safety at factories in Bangladesh, the world’s second-largest garment exporter after China.
On the other hand, they criticized the slowness of the legal proceedings, in particular against Sohel Rana, owner of Rana Plaza, who is one of 38 people indicted by a court in Bangladesh for murder.
Mr. Rana allegedly forced his employees to work despite the appearance of a crack in the building the day before it collapsed. His trial resumed last year, but the verdict may not come for several years.
“Less than 10 percent of witnesses were cross-examined,” prosecutor Bimal Samadder told AFP.
After the Rana Plaza collapsed, two oversight bodies were created to improve safety standards.
The wages of the four million workers, mostly women, making clothes for Western distributors also tripled after the tragedy.
Garment shop owners in Bangladesh say they have invested some two billion dollars in overhauling the security of their factories.
Laura Bourgeois, from the NGO Sherpa, warns, however, against audits to verify compliance with safety standards, which could prove to be “rigged with factories that are a little set up from scratch”.