Three Years After Global Garment Industry's Worst Disaster, 38 Indicted for Murder

Common Dreams, July 18, 2016, By Andrea Germanos

"More than three years after the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory building near Dhaka killed over 1,100 people, a Bangladesh court on Monday formally charged 38 people with murder for their role in the catastrophe.

It's been described as the worst disaster in the global garment industry's history.

Thirty-five of those charged—including building owner Sohel Rana—appeared in court on Monday and pleaded not guilty, Reuters reports.

In addition to those charged with murder, three other people were charged with helping Rana flee.

As NPR reported, 'Rana Plaza collapsed on April 24, 2013, with hundreds of workers inside. Survivors say workers were forced to go inside the building, even though a visible crack was forming.'

'Tragically,' Michelle Chen wrote at In These Times in the wake of the disaster, 'it took the scale of the carnage at Rana Plaza to shine light on a barely regulated industry known for treating its Global South workforce—which profits from vast numbers of rural migrant women workers with few other job options—as disposable tools.' ..."


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Andrew Morgan On The True Cost Of Fast Fashion: The Ethical & Environmental Price of Clothing

The Rich Roll Podcast, July 3, 2016

“We have the ability to be a part of the kind of world we want to have or to be part of the destruction that we say we’re against.” - Andrew Morgan

Andrew Morgan is the young, talented filmmaker behind the beautiful and heartbreaking documentary The True Cost. Premiering at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, it’s a movie about the untold story of fashion. It’s about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the garment industry is having on the world we share.


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Will Our Love of Cheap Clothing Doom the Sustainable Fashion Movement?

TakePart, April 19, 2016, By Liz Dwyer

"It’s common sense that if you’re buying a pair of trendy $9 jeans at the mall, there’s a good chance they were made in an overseas sweatshop by poorly paid women or children. Yet a new survey reveals that saving a buck is what’s foremost in Americans’ minds.

An Associated Press–GFK poll released late last week found that when it comes to purchasing clothes, the majority of Americans prefer cheap prices over a “Made in the USA” label. The poll, inspired by campaign trail promises by presidential candidates to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., asked respondents to choose between two pairs of pants of the same fabric and design. The pair manufactured in the United States would set the shopper back $85, while the one sewn overseas would cost $50. A full 67 percent of respondents, regardless of household income, said they’d choose the cheaper pair of pants. ...

'Buying cheaply is a cultural deficiency that we can address with a common goal toward more sustainable practices,' Orsola de Castro, the U.K.-based cofounder and director of Fashion Revolution, wrote in an email to TakePart.

De Castro launched Fashion Revolution after the fatal 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. The horrific (and preventable) accident killed more than 1,000 people and injured around 2,500 more.

'It is absolutely about basic human rights wherever there is a fashion production. The fashion industry creates millions of jobs, everywhere,' wrote de Castro. 'It is about ensuring integrity: encouraging an industry that, wherever it decides to produce, treats its workers fairly, pays a living wage, ensures safety and dignity. Quality products made by people with a good quality of life.' ...

Both Degrassi and Vartan recommended The True Cost, a 2015 documentary revealing the often inhumane experiences of people around the globe who work in the garment industry. 'People who see The True Cost find themselves unable to participate in fast fashion—or [they] seriously question and redefine their shopping habits,' wrote Vartan. ..."


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Rana Plaza: three years on, garment workers still exploited

War on Want, 21 April 2016, by Thulsi Narayanasamy

"Global fashion brands dictate the precise designs of clothes down to the last stitch, yet claim to have little power to ensure the basic rights of workers in factories. On the third anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, the voices of garment workers continue to be ignored.

The mass of rubble and clothes. Stunned workers emerging on makeshift stretchers. Then the news: it wasn’t an accident. Factory workers had seen the cracks. Rana Plaza had been evacuated, but garment workers were forced to return, for fear of losing their jobs.

Three years after the devastating collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, the factory owner is in prison, compensation to victims and families has been paid and global garment brands continue to profit from exploitation of workers in Bangladesh.

Over 1100 workers were killed and thousands more seriously injured on 24 April 2013, yet it took years for brands to pay compensation to victims.

Three years on, workers are still forced to work 14-16 hours a day, six days a week, face routine abuse in the workplace, and all for poverty wages that aren’t enough to pay rent in a slum or provide three meals a day. 

All over the world, fashion brands are driven by the search for lowest production prices and the highest profit.

The race to the bottom on wages and competition across garment producing countries has left local factories scrambling to offer the cheapest production prices at the expense of the rights of workers. Exploitation of workers is the norm, and relied upon to rake in profits for the brands. ..."


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Three Years After Rana Plaza, Has Anything Changed?

Business of Fashion, April 19, 2016, By Kate Abnett

"Sunday will mark the three-year anniversary of Rana Plaza, the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry, which killed 1,134 people when a building in Bangladesh housing several garment factories collapsed.

Many saw this event as a wake-up call for fashion. And yet, the industry is still plagued by systemic issues: uneven and poorly enforced legislation on wages, working hours and health and safety; and opaque supply chains, where sub-contracting makes it easy for factories and brands to pass on responsibility for the conditions in which their products are made. The sheer scale of the garment industry — the market for apparel is worth $1.3 trillion and employs tens of millions of people — means the social impact of these problems is vast.

Fashion’s environmental record raises more red flags: the clothing industry has been cited as the world’s second biggest polluter after oil. Its businesses churn out clothes at an alarming rate — Americans now buy five-times as much clothing as they did in 1980. According to the WWF, it takes up to 2,700 litres of water to produce the cotton needed to make a single t-shirt. And many simply go to waste: in the US alone, 10.5 million tonnes of clothing is sent to landfills each year. ..."


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Fire at India garment factory

Reuters, Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A massive fire breaks out at a garment factory in India where about 100 workers are feared to be trapped inside. Rough cut (no reporter narration).

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Andrew Morgan: The cost of clothing

CCTV America, December 19, 2015

How does fashion impact the people who make it and the world we live in? In 2013, an eight-story garment factory, filled with workers making clothes for major Western brands, collapsed in Bangladesh.

It killed more than a thousand people trapped inside and injured thousands more. It was this catastrophe that motivated American filmmaker, Andrew Morgan, to search for answers. “This isn’t just a Bangladesh issue to me,” explains Andrew. “It’s truly one of the most uniquely global issues.”

His documentary, The True Cost, has been sweeping both film festivals and the fashion media around the world…looking at both the human and environmental cost of fast fashion. “What I’m asking in the film is: ‘Why is that the best we can do? Why is it always that or nothing? Why isn’t it that or better?” Andrew asks.

He joined Mike Walter in our Los Angeles studio to explain his inspiration for the film and reveals some of the unexpected challenges, and joys, he encountered while creating it.


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True Cost. True Change.

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Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Fashion

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Fast Fashion and the Prison Crisis: What Comes Next?

The Huffington Post, August 20, 2015, By Christian Birky

"When a garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh in the spring of 2013, I was at Princeton finishing my thesis on potential resolutions to the American prison crisis. I thought the two – labor exploitation in the fashion industry and a disastrous incarceration rate – were unrelated. I was wrong.

Over the second half of the 20th century, the United States outsourced many of the manufacturing jobs that sustained the middle class in pursuit of cheap labor to deliver lower prices on consumer goods. Today only two to three percent of the apparel worn in the U.S. is manufactured here, down from 50 percent in 1990.

This 'race to the bottom' has come with repercussions. Escalating unemployment and poverty rates led to an increase in crime at the same time as the U.S. was introducing "tough on crime" policies. With a 700 percent increase in incarceration from 1970 to 2005, the U.S. now has about five percent of the world's population, but almost 25 percent of its known prisoners -- the highest incarceration rate in the world.

State and federal governments spend over $80 billion on incarceration annually. The indirect costs may be far greater as individuals and communities suffer the psychological and economic burden of incarceration. Poor, undereducated and minority urban men shoulder that weight disproportionately. This population faced an uphill battle finding living wage jobs before incarceration; finding one after may seem impossible. After years of incarceration, returning citizens often lack basic job skills. While stable employment is an important step towards reducing recidivism, over 50 percent of returning citizens are unemployed eight months after release. Not surprisingly, one in two end up back behind bars within three years of release.

Meanwhile, the wildly profitable fast fashion industry is fueled by cheap prices and ever-increasing consumption; overseas factories churn out poor quality garments designed to be worn only a few times. As explored in Livia Firth's recent documentary The True Cost, in order to maintain low prices, the industry relies on exploitative working conditions. ..."


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Introducing Bullfrog Communities

Welcome to Bullfrog Communities

We aim to energize change, and to help local activists broaden their reach.

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