Workers Uniting shares the global reaction of horror and anger at the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh on April 24 which killed more than 700 workers – with nearly 1,000 still unaccounted for. This is only the latest in a series of fatal industrial ‘accidents’ in the global garment industry.
The reports and worker testimonies we have received from the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights starkly demonstrate the suffering of the survivors and the callousness of many global apparel brands that have sought to distance themselves from the disaster.
Let’s be clear. The companies that flocked to Bangladesh in search of the world’s cheapest labour bear responsibility for this tragedy. The impunity of the multinational apparel brands and government officials and the violation of Bangladeshi workers’ rights must end NOW.
- We demand that all apparel brands sourcing in Bangladesh immediately sign the Joint Memorandum of Understanding on Fire and Building Safety proposed by IndustriALL and a coalition of NGOs. This document , which sets clear and enforceable targets for action by the brands, is the only acceptable mechanism. The brands must show their commitment to worker rights by staying in Bangladesh and working to improve conditions under the MOU.
- We urge the United States and the European Union to immediately suspend Bangladesh’s market access under the Generalized System of Preferences program until the Bangladeshi government takes concrete action to respect labor rights, including at minimum legislation that allows all workers to form trade unions and engage in collective bargaining without government interference.
- We call on national legislatures in our countries to enact laws, such as the Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act introduced in the U.S. Congress, that would ban the importation of goods produced under sweatshop conditions.
Workers Uniting is the new international union created by Unite the Union - the biggest union in the UK and Republic of Ireland - and the United Steelworkers - the biggest private sector union in the US and Canada.
We represent 3 million members protecting jobs, pay and benefits in the face of the ever increasing power of multinational companies.