Case Study – After Collapes of Rana Plaza

Case Study – After Rana Plaza

Introduction

The ready-made garments sector of Bangladesh constitute about 82% of the total export from the country and has offered employment opportunities to more than 4.3 million individuals. Out of these population working in such industry, about three-quarters constitute of women. Research also claims that the garment industry supports another 25 million individuals and this has offered critical support to the country’s developments (Butler, 2014, p.76).

It was on 24th April 2013 when there was a deadly collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. It was an eight-story building that was located about 27 kilometers outside Dhaka and it housed the garment factories. The building was reduced to rubble and this created headlines all over the world as more than 1200 people lost their lives while 2,500 others were severely injured (Lawrence & Weber, 2016, p.440). It was regarded as the most catastrophic industrial disaster for the garment industry. The accident affected not only individuals but also several retailers and brands from the U.S and Europe such as the Gap, Walmart, Inditex, H & M among others that used to source products from the garment factories in Rana Plaza. This paper will focus on providing solutions to case questions pertaining the disaster.

Question 1

Who Was Responsible for the Collapse of Rana Plaza?

  1. Bangladesh Government

Over the years, the Bangladesh garment industry has been under rapid expansion and this has resulted in the rise in demand for a high-rise building. Majority of the conventional structures have been renovated into factories and the business owners developed a tendency to add extra floors without any permission as evidenced from Rana Plaza. From this case, it was evident that the relevant government authorities failed to monitor and inspect the standards of building Rana Plaza (Lawrence & Weber, 2016, p.442). Residents from nearby area claimed that the building had cracks and the issue was even broadcasted in the local media. Nevertheless, the government failed to consider the action which could be an act that had saved thousands of lives who perished from the disaster. Additionally, the Western Companies benefited from the cheap labor offered from Bangladesh and so their media could have focused and exposed the political corruption that exists in Bangladeshi to the global audience (Butler, 2014, p.57).

The Bangladeshi government failed to protect the human rights as well as respect the workers’ rights and this facilitated the occurrence of disasters like the Rana Plaza. Nevertheless, there are low wages, poor working conditions, repression of labor union and restrictions have adversely impacted the industry. The government has the mandate to protect their citizens against abuse of their human rights by third parties such as business entrepreneurs (Reinecke & Donaghey, 2015, p.89). To offer the protection, the state had to make policies, investigations, regulations and enforcement. However, the policymakers are involved in the business through profit-making and act as staunch defenders of corrupt activities. The government is being included in dirty politics and false promises which have affected the manner in which operations have to be conducted (Reinecke & Donaghey , 2015, p.44). The Bangladeshi state has been protecting the oppressors and restricting the accessibility of protection from the legislature, judiciary and administrative. Also, there is the prevention of corporate responsibility and contraventions of right which has become a dream for most of the citizens that are victims of human rights violation.

  • Factory Owner and Managers

The manager and factory owner are accountable for the disaster. According to research, it suggests that a chief engineer, Emdadul Islam from the Capital Development Authority stated that Rana Plaza did not have proper building consent (Lawrence & Weber, 2016, p.443). Therefore, the facility had a permit that would allow it to build only five-story from the local municipality. However, the managers who had political connections violated the law and illegally extended the building by three more stories making it eight.

It is noted that workers at Rana Plaza were keen to observe the cracks in the building some days before the catastrophe and took the responsibility to notify the management. Nevertheless, the administration was reluctant to make any safety and precautious measures. It was so ignorant that a week before the building collapse, the manager of the factory told the media that the cracks in the building were minor and could not cause any damage (Reinecke & Donaghey, 2015, p. 67).

On that deadly day, the workers were frightened of their safety and had planned to boycott, but they were threatened with pay cuts if they do not follow the rules. As Bangladesh is known to have the lowest minimum wages in the world, the workers were forced to work despite the unsafe condition of the structure. Before the disaster, the garment factory had to remain closed and they would be allowed to continue with business after making discussions with structural engineers (Reinecke & Donaghey, 2015, p.103). However, the factory owners ignored the advice and decided to keep their business.

The tragedy was as a result of a corrupt system that has established its deep foundation in Bangladesh. The building was constructed without adhering to the codes and laws of construction. Also, poor materials were used for the work which calls for the assessment of structures by government authorities from the beginning of construction. The negligence of the concerned authorities is mostly culpable for such a catastrophe. Regrettably, bribes have been used to obtain such kinds of permission to construct high-rise buildings in Bangladesh. With this, the managers can offer construction without securing suitable materials for the work. It is understood that the political-business nexus has developed to be the topic of debate in Bangladesh. Research claims that many politicians have garment businesses and the headquarters of their businesses were built illegally in the Bangladeshi capital (Reinecke & Donaghey, 2015, p.70). The prime minister of Bangladesh when interviewed had cold-heartedly dismissed about the tragedy in Savar and defended the government by claiming that accidents do happen. Such comments provided an accurate picture of the kleptocracy in that state.

Question 2

Remedies to Prevent a Similar Disaster from Occurring in the Future

  • The Management Should be Speaking to Workers

The Rana Plaza was an appalling episode and workers were requested back to work notwithstanding the significant dangers postured to their security and safety. In any workstation, workers are always willing to communicate about issues they feel they’re disturbing at their work. They are frequently hesitant to talk up about their anxieties because of a paranoid fear of losing their occupations. As the exchange works in the matter of how to get ahead of the massive death toll, apparently there is no real way to guarantee production line consistency with security principles without addressing laborers themselves (Westervelt, 2015, p.97).

Such a tragedy developed an enormous deal of fear for every employee who works in the garment industry. Individuals were afraid to lose their jobs as well as lose their lives if they manage to attend their workplaces. The garment industry had provided the largest employment-population in Bangladesh and mostly women who were less skilled and they had to shift from the rural areas due to poverty (Reinecke & Donaghey, 2015, p.122). The less competent women are in search of jobs to enhance their dignity, freedom, make greater choices and mostly get a better life. The participation of women in such an industry reached a milestone in the history of Bangladesh. It ensured there is a higher increase of women participating in the formal economy and it changed the ability of women to involve in decisions making as well as mobility that pertain their lives. The ability of the garment industry to offer employment to a large population of Bangladeshi’s women provides better opportunity, but this is presented with many challenges for the industry that caters for 80% of export earnings as well as employment for 3 million citizens (Westervelt, 2015, p.34). It is, therefore, imperative for the management and business owners of garment factories to take their time and give workers an opportunity to raise their concerns about the business.

  • The Government to Make Industrial Reforms

After the disastrous Rana Plaza, the Bangladeshi government has experienced intense pressure for them to renovate all their industries. The major donor countries such as U.S and U.K as well as the retailers have made relevant consideration of withdrawing from the supply chain of Bangladeshi. For instance, the United States abolished the GSP (generalized system of preference) for trade benefits after the occurrence of such a catastrophic event (Alve & Arafat, 2014, p.84). The U.S stated that Bangladeshi had not attained international standards of rights to workers within their state. Nevertheless, the European Union presented some claims that it will suspend their trade benefits if reforms are not carried out in the garment industry if Bangladesh.

After the tragedy, it is understood that Bangladesh agreed with the European Union as they signed the Sustainability Compact. This would ensure that the state improves the labor rights with attention on collective bargaining, freedom of association, health and factory safety, occupational safety, offering support, promote and control business conduct. The government has to adopt an amended labor law that will provide an excellent environment for employees to develop trade unions such as the capacity to appoint new factory inspectors and modifying the registration process of the new unions. Bangladesh labor law should also be amended so that it complies with the fundamental international standards of labor (Alve & Arafat, 2014, p.114). Nevertheless, the Bangladesh government should make emphasis on problems of intimidation, trade unions registrations, harassment and discrimination of anti-trade unions.

The government has to incorporate initiatives that will inspect the safety conditions of the garment factories. The Building Safety and Accord on Fire is one of the efforts that can be run by the retailers whereby majority come from Europe. The guarantors of such a legal binding agreement will have the powers to oversee and examine any modifications that are made to the garment factories. Such an initiative will also include campaign group and trade unions. The other initiative will be the Coalition of Safety Workers in Bangladesh which will inspect and oversee the improvements that will be made in the factories (Westervelt, 2015, p.77). The Coalition will comprise of twenty-five retailers from North-America such as Gap and Walmart. Additionally, Bangladesh state should own inspectors who will be funded by the European Union and given support by the International Labor Organization to assist in assessing the improvements in the remaining 1,500 factories.

  • Constructing Standard Buildings that are not Vulnerable to Earthquakes

Research indicates that more than 40,000 people are moving to the urban areas in Bangladesh every week. The country is urbanizing and the disappointing issue is that majority of the buildings in the city do not conform to the building standards and codes. Information from Bangladesh housing ministry suggests that about 88% of the buildings do not adhere to the building codes (Westervelt, 2015, p.145). It is therefore imperative for the government to conduct inspections and ensure construction of buildings that are free from earthquakes. Rana Plaza was located in Dhaka which is under two fault lines and has a high prevalence of earthquake. Nevertheless, the region has experienced some earthquakes in the past years and this makes the area unsafe for human residence. After the Rana collapse, the rescue effort was hindered by thousands of onlookers who also made minimum efforts to offer rescue attempts. Due to the inadequacies of the such a response together, the risk of the fault lines as well as the high population of unstable buildings in Bangladesh, it is clear that there is a high chance of a similar catastrophic event should a high magnitude earthquake strike (Reinecke & Donaghey, 2015, p.65). Therefore, the building owners and the relevant government authority should be accountable and take actions to ensure construction of standard buildings.

Question 3

Typology of Corporate Strategy to Prevent Workers Abuse by Contractors in Supply Chain

  • Right to Organize and Freedom of Association

The international human rights law have documented the rights of workers to organize. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has to establish conventions such as ICCPR (international covenant on civil and political rights) and the 87 ILO convention that will foster on freedom of association and protect the right of workers to organize. The conventions with support from UN Human Rights have the responsibility of investigating the worker’s complaints and employers (Westervelt, 2015, p.93). They have to impose an onus on the Bangladesh government to safeguard the workers from being mistreated by employers. The UN human rights should maintain and ensure the participation and formation of the right to the union for Bangladesh workers.

Through ICCPR, individuals will have the right to freedom of association with any person which will also support their capacity to join and form trade unions for the benefit of protecting their interests. Bangladesh has to incorporate vital steps that would cover measures and legislative to give effective remedy to employees’ grievances. The right to organize will cover registration that will offer official recognition. The law will provide the conditions necessary for a union registration and grounds that may enable the worker to either refuse or accept the registration. Government measures should not cause undue delays to worker’s registrations as this will cause a violation of the right to organize for workers (Reinecke & Donaghey, 2015, p.57). By enacting laws that support the working conditions of workers, it will ensure they have the freedom to choose which organization they are willing to work with and if workers face any mistreatment they will have the right to resign and find employment in better institutions.

  • Respect for Labor Rights

The Bangladesh government has the mandate of protecting the rights of every worker in that state. Even after the state made reforms to its laws, it is far below the accepted international standards in a vital respect. With strict enforcement of the labor laws will ensure there is the end of employer’s impunity who have intimidated as well as harassed local trade unionists and workers who are struggling for their rights to organize and freedom to collective bargaining. From the Bangladesh constitution on the section of Labor Act, it has covered significant unfair labor activities (Alve & Arafat, 2014, p.75). For instance, the law claims that no employer has the power to remove, threaten, injure or dismiss any employee from work as they have persuaded another individual to be a member of a particular trade union. Bangladesh constitution also approves the conventions 87 and 98 of the International Labor Union on the freedom of association as well as collective bargaining. Nevertheless, the law has to uphold all the rights therein (Lawrence & Weber, 2016, p.450).

Conclusion

The deadly collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in April 24th, 2013 marked the most catastrophic industrial disaster for the garment industry. The tragedy affected not only individuals but also several retailers and brands from the U.S and Europe such as the Gap, Walmart, Inditex, H & M among others that used to source products from the garment factories in Rana Plaza. The Bangladeshi government failed to protect the human rights as well as respect the workers’ rights and this facilitated the occurrence of disasters like the Rana Plaza. There are low wages, poor working conditions, repression of labor union and restrictions have adversely impacted the industry. The government has the mandate to protect their citizens against abuse of their human rights by third parties such as business entrepreneurs. Through ICCPR, individuals will have the right to freedom of association with any person which will also support their capacity to join and form trade unions for the benefit of protecting their interests. Bangladesh has to incorporate vital steps that would cover measures and legislative to give effective remedy to employees’ grievances.

Share this Post