We are still fighting for transparency
Seven years ago today 1134 people – mostly women – were killed when the building they were working in collapsed. Those people were working; cutting and sewing the clothes that we wear. Many more workers (some 2500) were injured. Please stop for a moment to consider these numbers. 1134.
1134 people were killed. When numbers become so large it is difficult to comprehend what they mean. It is shocking. And we must continue to be shocked. We must remember them. Honour them. And show solidarity to those still working and those campaigning for change, against difficult odds in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the world.
Inspired by the work being done in America to remember the Shirtwaist Triangle Fire in 1911 in which 146 women and men lost their lives, I have been trying to find out the names of some of the women and men who died in the Rana Plaza collapse. Since 2004 Ruth Sergel, an artist and other volunteers, travel across New York City on the anniversary of the fire to inscribe in chalk the names, ages, and causes of death of the victims in front of their former homes, often including drawings of flowers, tombstones or a triangle.
By doing this the workers who died are remembered with dignity and are written into the history of the fashion and textile industry – we must strive to remember those killed in Rana Plaza too. It has been astonishingly difficult, and in the afternoon I spent reading and researching, I could find but four names.
Those names are:
Shahina – whose surname I haven’t yet found
And Mohammed Kaikobad, who volunteered to rescue survivors.
Please contact us if you know others, we would like to do our bit to write them into history and see these workers as more than just a number.
We must remember because we are still fighting for transparency in the fashion supply chain, for access to unions for workers across the world, and for compensation for those injured and struggling the wake of the collapse.
For more information about work being done in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse please see:
Modern Slavery Legislation – which asks businesses with a turnover of over £36 million to information about their supply chain.
War on Want – for campaigns on global justice.
This blog was originally published in 2017, with minor changes.