5 years on from Rana Plaza: Supply chain legislation needed
25 April 2018
5 years on since the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh which took the lives of 1138 people and injured over 2500, MEPs today called for new EU laws to clean up our clothing supply chain. The disaster was a shocking wakeup call and we have seen some improvements in Bangladesh. But there is still a way to go: trade unionists face daily threats, children who should be in school are still working and in an industry where 90% of employees are women, the gender pay gap remains.
In the past, we’ve tried to change working practices in the countries that produce our clothes through our trade deals. Following on from Rana Plaza, the EU Commission gave the Bangladeshi government a deadline to make substantial improvements in working conditions or it would review Bangladesh’s trade access to Europe. This hasn’t led to as much progress as hoped for and we also need action not just in Bangladesh, but in all countries supplying clothes to our markets.
So we need another way: legislation to force companies to clean up their supply chains, to stop the exploitation, pay fair wages and allow workers to organise in unions. And that doesn’t just mean companies making the garments in developing countries, it also means the household names who sell us these clothes.
France already has a new law requiring its companies to exercise what is termed “due diligence” in its supply chain ie they must know who is making their clothes and make sure it’s fair and safe. Now we need the rest of the EU to follow. We already have similar laws to prevent illegal logging and stop the trade in conflict minerals. It’s time for our governments to act to protect clothing workers and to make sure the clothes we wear every day are not linked to tragedies like Rana Plaza.
Picture from l to r: Agnes Jongerius MEP & Linda McAvan MEP at a stall in the European Parliament for Fashion Revolution Week which is part of the global effort to improve conditions in the garment industry.