The state minister for foreign affairs, on the occasion of the anniversary of Rana Plaza collapse, yesterday urged the garment sector stakeholders not to do business in a way that it endangers people's lives.
“Today we should commit that we will not do business which kills people. Personally, I made a commitment today that I will not do such a business which will kill people,” Shahriar Alam, state minister for foreign affairs, said.
His comments came at an event organised by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association at its headquarters to commemorate the first anniversary of the industrial accident, the worst in the garment industry.
The programme was attended by the dead workers' children and survivors, trade union leaders, ministers and garment owners.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said he could never imagine an incident as tragic as the collapse of the eight-storey building in Bangladesh. “Let us learn some lessons from this dark chapter in our history.”
“I do not want another tragedy like the Rana Plaza building collapse. I cannot even sleep when I remember the incident,” said Saathi Akter, a survivor.
“I cannot express in words the enormity of this tragedy. I lost my husband in the incident. Nothing can be more heartbreaking than this,” said Momtaz Parveen, wife of Saeed Ahmed, who was an executive director of Phantom Apparels Ltd, one of the five factories housed in the plaza. Rokia Afzal Rahman, president of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said she is ashamed of the catastrophe, which propelled Bangladesh into the headlines the world over for all the wrong reasons.
Nazma Akter, president of Sammilito Garment Sramik Federation, said the catastrophe took place due to an error of a few, while citing the owners and some corrupt government officials as the culpable parties.
She went on to urge the political leaders and garment owners not to exploit the poor garment workers anymore. “They should treat the workers as resources. The retailers and owners need to stop their greedy thinking.”
The labour leader also criticised the Swedish retail giant H&M's Chief Executive Officer Karl-Johan Persson, who warned that the recent wage rise in the country could prompt many companies to shift orders to other countries.
She said the salaries were hiked as per H&M's recommendations, while urging retailers to pay more for per unit of garment items from Bangladesh. “We need fair price and fair wage.”