Internet Assignment B
The unfortunate and preventable tragedy at Rana Plaza was a complex series of events shrouded in ommisions, cover-ups, corruption, lies, negligence and greed. The scope of this event is as vast as the blame; the culpability cannot be pinned on one source as each link on the supply chain has failed, creating the perfect storm.
Beginning with Mr. Sohel Rana, an ex gangster and owner of the Rana Plaza, who was arrested trying to flee the country shortly after the collapse. Mr. Rana was under tremendous pressure from factory owners to meet production deadlines, thus short cuts, skipped safety checks and oversights were common place. Mr. Rana’s crumbling eight story building had been constructed on reclaimed wetlands and was of compromised structural integrity due to ground settling and structural cracking. Rana had originally received permit to build from the Mayor, who was not authorized to issue or approve such permits. This caused cries of corruption early on as many city officials and MP’s are heavily invested into Bangladesh’s booming garment industry. After the ramshackle construction of the main five story structure, Rana illegally added three more floors.
In the weeks prior to the Rana collapse, local Police along with (BGMEA), The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association warned Mr. Rana of the imminent danger in the factory, as did an engineer hired to inspect the facility. All other businesses (a bank, shops and apartments) in the Rana complex closed immediately after the engineers findings. Mr. Rana ignored these warnings and reports instead cramming the predominately female workers into the failing structure under the threat of termination for those who refused to work.
Mr. Rana’s negligence, arrogance and callous behavior is undeniably sickening and criminal, his pursuit of profit before people is unfortunately a common attitude infecting, the supply chain at all links.
Equally culpable and accountable are the Bangladeshi government and foreign national corporations whose factories occupied Rana Plaza. The Bangladeshi government is the 2nd largest garment exporter in the world with annual profits around 20 billion USD. The booming garment industry has long been marred by work place accidents, scandals and appalling labor standards. The Rana collapse was a case of negligence and corruption by local government and inspectors. The garment industry is tied to a corrupt political system with at least 25 members of parliament acting as investors into the garment business.
Bangladesh has relaxed and antiquated building codes, with enforcement and fines being unheard of. Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister, has said that 90% of Bangladesh’s buildings meet no building codes at all. With the huge profits being made the government has no incentive to protect its citizens, in turn the building owner and factory bosses have no assumption of responsibility and the breakdown begins.
The foreign national companies involved at the Rana factory are not beyond reproach, simply claiming ignorance is unacceptable, these are some of the wealthiest fashion brands in the world who largely exploit the highly underpaid work force. Foreign companies often bid on countries whose laws and regulations are relaxed; as one advisor to foreign buyer said, “There is not a rule or policy in Bangladesh that cannot be bent”.
Foreign Corporations failed to ensure the safety of employees down the supply chain, yet still expected to be paid. When disaster struck, many of the big brands failed to accept responsibility and quickly left the country. Although severing ties with Bangladesh will put pressure on the government and factory owners it does little in regards to promote ethics and corporate social responsibility within the supply chain. In a tragedy such as Rana the root cause was lack of workers rights and education. With a safety accord in place the workers would have never been