Guli-Sanam Karimova Joined Workshop “5 Years after Rana Plaza: Consequences for Labour Standards Improvements in Garment Supply Chains”
The Rana Plaza – five stock garment factory building – collapsed on April 24, 2013 in Bangladesh killing more than 1100 workers. The factory manufactured apparel supplying firms with global brands such as Benetton, Mango, Primark, Walmart etc.
As a reaction to the disaster, more than 200 firms joined two initiatives – “Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh” and “Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety”. The Accord is an independent, legally binding agreement between firms and trade unions. It aims at helping build a safe and healthy working environment in Bangladeshi in general and for the ready-made garment industry in particular. Working in such environment with appropriate health and safety measures, workers would not need to worry a lot about potential severe working accidents.
Against this background and in memory of the Rana Plaza Accident five years ago, Prof. Dr. Juliane Reinecke (King’s College London) and Dr. Nora Lohmeyer (Freie Universität Berlin) organized a workshop “5 Years after Rana Plaza: Consequences for Labour Standards Improvements in Garment Supply Chains” that took place at the Freie Universität Berlin on April 27-28, 2018. The two-day workshop brought together researchers engaged in assessing the consequences of this disaster for labour standards governance in garment supply chains and some selected practitioners who work in the related areas. Scientists from Bangladesh, Australia, USA and European countries presented insights from their current research on the governance of labour standards in the global garment industry. And practitioners from, for example, NGOs provided the lessons and knowledge on the issues of labour standards and working conditions in the garment industry that they obtained from their daily work. The discussions between researchers and practitioners helped exchange their knowledge with each other. Moreover, such discussions helped researchers explore ways to cooperate with each other and beyond to improve the research impact.
Guli-Sanam Karimova, KCG PhD Researcher, whose research focuses on investigating cultural differences in the perception of corporate social responsibility and consumer social responsibility along the global supply chains, also joined the workshop to gain more insights into the related research and practice. Some selected key insights obtained can be summarized as follows. First, working conditions concerning safety in the garment industry in Bangladesh have been improved over the past five years after the Rana Plaza Accident. The improvement may be attributable to the legally binding regulations in the above mentioned Accord. Contrary to that, the Global Compact of the United Nations is criticized for its low effectiveness. National engagement in enhancing firms’ accountability and liability in providing a safe and healthy working environment along the global supply chains would be required as well. Second, the improvement seems to be limited to the improvement in safety in working conditions only. Significant improvement in wages in the textile industry of Bangladesh cannot be observed. Third, the global fast-fashion consumer culture poses additional challenges on the long-term sustainable development of the global garment and apparel industry. Future research is required to further work on exploring sustainable solutions for the industry globally. Moreover, it remains to be seen whether and how the lessons learned from the industry may be further spilled over to the other industries.
The program of the workshop can be found here.