Statement by Bangladeshi Labor Leader Abul Hossain
April, 30 2013 Share
Statement by Bangladeshi Labor Leader
Abul Hossain, National Alliance for the Protection of Garment Workers
April 29, 2013
“We equally blame the government, the owners of the five garment factories, and the owner of the Rana Plaza building. How is it possible that government offices, including the Directorate of Factory Inspectors in Savar, would approve what was an illegal and faulty construction plan to build a high rise. Government officials are responsible for the collapse of the Rana Plaza building and the deaths of hundreds of workers as they failed due diligence to carry out their oversight.
"How could Sohel Rana, the owner of the building, illegally add additional floors to the Rana Plaza building without getting permission from the authorities in charge? Why was Sohel Rana allowed to turn what was a commercial building into an industrial building filled with heavy machinery? The owner of Rana Plaza should be held responsible for the collapse of the building and the tragic deaths of hundreds of workers. I would say it was not an accident but rather the planned killing of hundreds of innocent workers. Workers said that Sohel Rana intimidated them into going back into the factory despite the risks.
"The Industrial Police warned the factory owners not to re-open their factories in the Rana Plaza building. But the garment owners defied the decision of the local Industrial Police in Savar and opened their factories without the authority to do so. The garment owners also threatened the workers that if they did not go into the factories, they would be denied their entire April wages. The owners were indifferent to the imminent risk the workers were facing.
"Like factories across Bangladesh, the workers of the five garment factories located in Rana Plaza were denied their legal trade union rights. The workers were unwilling to work on April 24, but management forced them to enter. If these workers had trade union rights, including bargaining for wages and safety, this kind of needless tragedy could have been averted. Hundreds of workers were killed because there were no trade union rights in these factories. It is of utmost necessity to finally allow workers to exercise their legal and democratic rights. This needs to be done before any future accidents claim the lives of more innocent workers.
"In the recent past, there have been several tragic accidents—at Tazreen, Spectrum and Smart Fashion—which took the lives of 200 workers. The owners of the factories were not brought to trial. These rich garment owners have been given impunity and are freely moving around. This must be stopped immediately. We demand that the perpetrators of the recent factory fires and the collapse at Rana Plaza must be brought to trial to prevent the killings of more workers."