Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Human rights campaigners stage a demonstration in London in 2014 to call on retailers to pay up outstanding compensation to victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, and to ensure better safety in their Bangladeshi factories. (Photo: Trades Union Congress/flickr/cc)

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

Over 1,100 people died when Rana Plaza garment factory building collapsed near Dhaka

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."

As Common Dreams has noted, it also "shined a global spotlight on the complicity of U.S.- and Europe-headquartered corporations," while Joe Westby, corporate campaigner at Amnesty International, wrote that "the images of dead workers in the debris of the collapsed factory have become powerful symbols of the pursuit of profit at the expense of people."

There have been some improvements in labor conditions in the years since the disaster, Thulsi Narayanasamy, senior international programs officer at War on Want, wrote, such as "The Bangladesh Safety Accord [which] marked the first step towards holding garment companies to account for the working conditions in their supply chains, and [the fact that] now it is no longer contested that the brands are responsible for the human rights abuses that workers face."

In addition, she continued, "it is finally accepted that ... The system is at fault and stacked in favor of the brands: profits come before people."

Yet, she argued, "global garment brands continue to profit from exploitation of workers in Bangladesh."

"Three years on," she wrote, "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."

Further, as Chen wrote at The Nation in April, "The disaster sparked a spate of reforms to facilitate the creation of new trade unions. But implementation has been systematically hampered by rampant union busting, including excessively strict registration procedures, violent suppression, and the shuttering of factories after workers manage to unionize."

The trial is set to begin Sept. 18.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·


'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·


To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo