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Keeping Rana Plaza Out of Sight

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A Bangladeshi court banned the making of a film about one of the survivors of Rana Plaza for fear that the international attention might cause Bangladesh to lose its apparel industry.

I’m skeptical that a film would garner more attention than the actual death of over 1100 people, but I think more importantly is that the sweatshop owners in Bangladesh are also the governing class. I don’t know about the individual judges in this case of course, but many apparel contractors are in the Bangladeshi Parliament. They are protecting their own economic investments here, just like they do so by forcing workers to labor in unsafe factories, killing union organizers, keeping wages as low as possible.

This just reinforces why we need global labor standards that hold the western companies accountable. If Walmart didn’t pull out of Bangladesh because workers died making their clothes, they aren’t going to over a film, unless it led to a real international movement against the company. Or they will pull out because Bangladeshi workers make too much money for the billionaire owners of the company. But if we hold the apparel companies legally accountable for the conditions of production, then there is no incentive to pull out at all. The incentive is to improve the factories so that workers aren’t dying. Otherwise, workers will just die in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, or wherever else. That needs to be the focus here. That’s how you build solidarity with the Bangladeshi workers while actually doing something to ensure that Rana Plaza doesn’t happen again.

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