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Today is Fashion Revolution Day. Today, we commemorate the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex in Bangladesh, which killed over 1,100 garment workers and injured 2,500 more. Many of the victims were women making clothes for some of the biggest fashion brands in the world.
The Rana Plaza tragedy served as a big wake up call for the garment industry. In the years following the event, we’ve seen some positive signs of change. For example, improvements to structural fire and electrical safety. However, many serious problems are still deeply rooted, and involve many other labour rights issues. The women and men working in clothing factories are still employed under dangerous, precarious and abusive conditions for wages that barely see them rise above poverty.
This isn’t new information to us, but the Covid-19 crisis has once again brought to light how vulnerable garment workers are, and that the way garment supply chains currently work is not, by any means, sustainable. Millions of workers have been thrust back into poverty without any work. Furthermore, brands are cancelling orders, forcing factories to shut down.
The garment industry doesn’t have to be like this. Together with garment brands and other industry players, we work on bettering labour conditions for the people who make our clothes. Our member brands are working hard to do that by changing their business practices, step by step. We cannot leave the all the work to this group of responsible brands. All brands need to be held accountable. Garment brands – and other industry influencers – need to step up to enable garment production countries and their workforce to flourish.
This is why we’re working with like-minded organisations to make these improvements a reality. Fair Wear and its partners show that there is a better way to make clothes. A way in which workers feel safe and respected, and receive a salary that is enough to provide for their families. Together, we are pushing to make this the new normal.