Case Study: The Rana Plaza Disaster

751 Words4 Pages
More than a year has passed since the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh. Not a lot has changed in Canada — despite the huge public outcry in its immediate aftermath. Several international organizations, unions and NGOs did initiate a legally binding agreement with some retailers, The Accord on Fire and Safety in Bangladesh, to ensure that workers’ rights are respected. Their efforts have been opposed by large brands such as Walmart and the Gap, which have promoted a more “industry-friendly” agreement that is not legally binding. In Canada, only one retailer has signed onto the accord. For their part, governments have taken little action on public policy.
As consumers we often feel powerless, even when economists assure us that we can force
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In this firm, which calls itself the Dream Factory, workers earn legally stipulated wages and an equal share of 50 per cent of the firm’s profit. The remaining profits are reinvested or go to educational funds (for the children of workers) and short term loan funds (e.g., health care needs of workers severely injured in the Rana Plaza disaster). Like all start-ups, worker-owned firms and co-operatives face challenges. Oporajeo cites a need for a steady supply of orders, technical and financial support for quality assurance, and professional management expertise for its business…show more content…
Governments have little knowledge about such firms and are often unwilling to support them. Oporajeo has not only received scant institutional support, but because of its worker-owned status, cannot obtain a trade license or bank financing (even when it meets loan conditions). In addition, initiatives like Oporajeo are often seen to set “a bad example” particularly by dominant players in the market.
Our action as collective consumers and citizens can have an especially transformative impact here. In Canada, the federal government spends millions annually on imported garments, while the government of Ontario also purchases significant amounts, $66 million over the last five years.
While as citizens we pay for these garments, we have little or no information on how or in which countries they are produced. Other public institutions — schools, universities and hospitals — also purchase and sell garments. Our governments and public institutions can adopt purchasing that supports more ethical production. Indeed, some already do. Various universities and municipalities in Canada have “no-sweat” policies for the apparel they buy and sell, and an increasing number have also adopted “fair trade”
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