Bangladesh mourns deaths of hundreds as building collapses


Written by Emanuele del Tufo, Maria Torres, Heli Haapanen, Dimitar Shadoura and Izabela Łojewska

bangladesh

Image: AP/ A.M. Ahad

On May 8 over 800 people have been confirmed dead after a factory building collapsed on April 24 in Savar, a district of Dhaka Bangladesh. The  has been reported to be the deadliest disaster in the industrial history of Bangladesh. According to the BBC, the government investigations indicated sub-standard and weak construction materials of the building as the crucial reason of the collapse. The main architect admitted that the building was designed for shops and offices, not factories. The police arrested Mohammed Sohel Rana, owner of the Plaza Rana and Abdur Razzak Khan, the engineer who allowed the addition of three illegal stories to the building. Other Savar officials are also being charged for negligence. What appears to have triggered the collapse was a power cut and startup of generators which led to strong vibrations throughout the factory.

It is well known that many of the big Western companies exploit the population of countries like Bangladesh for cheap labor. After the disaster in the Asian country one of the questions that rises is how these companies should react. Different companies respond to this question in different ways. Some of them admit their relations with the factories in Bangladesh and promised compensation. Others denied their link with the tragedy despite the fact that there is clear evidence of their involvement in the building like their labels found in the debris.  According to Global Post both types of action are Public Relations strategies that aim to protect the companies from the bad reputation of operating in Bangladesh.

It’s no secret that working conditions in south-east Asia if not all over the continent are dreadful, but somebody has to take the blame for such a large-scale catastrophe. It wouldn’t take much to at least make an attempt to avoid these situations, foreign corporations should have invested in the maintenance of the infrastructure to ensure the safety of the workers and avoid risking their lives. However, it is not only the corporations’ fault, but also the Bangladeshi government for completely neglecting their national safety requirements. Also, it now appears logical that a building in such precarious conditions cannot hold super-heavy machinery, which has been reported by the CNN to be one of the reasons for the collapse, but if this would have been thought earlier, the collapse would not have happened.

Thanks to the information supported by Democracy Now!, a daily independent news source, we know more about this tragic event that happened in Bangladesh

During the famous May Day, also known as the International Workers Day, several protests took place in Bangladesh due to the collapse of the factory, taking the lives of over 800. The protesters demanded safety regulations in workplaces and also the promotion of women workers. In addition to this, the protesters requested the big companies present in the factory to increase their wages. Most workers earn approximately 38 dollars a month, roughly 21 cents per hour. The miserable working conditions in the region highlight the situation in the region.

German clothing company KiK said it was “surprised, shocked and appalled” to learn that its T-shirts and tops were found in the rubble. The company said it stopped doing business with the Rana Plaza factories in 2008. They promised to carry out an investigation.

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