WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today released the below statement on the 10th anniversary (April 24) of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh:
“Today, we somberly remember the deadly Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which took the lives of more than 1,100 people and injured thousands more. Horrified by the tragic consequences of factory owners’ disregard for worker safety, the world watched as bodies were recovered from the rubble. We were made acutely aware of the urgent need to address dangerous conditions in Bangladesh’s garment factories, and reaffirmed our commitment to advance labor rights everywhere.
“Yet, a decade later, room for progress remains. Bangladeshi factory workers still face considerable barriers to free association, collective bargaining, and unionization, including cumbersome and opaque registration processes, high rejection rates, a lack of protection from anti-union discrimination and reprisal, and a lack of redress mechanisms for victims of falsified claims by management. Addressing these injustices is a necessary step forward as we work to ensure the safety and welfare of factory workers, and to honor the legacy of those who perished in the Rana Plaza collapse.
“On this important anniversary, I call for the Government of Bangladesh—and employers everywhere—to prioritize worker safety. We cannot forget those who lost their lives in the Rana Plaza disaster, and must commit to continue to expose poor and unsafe labor conditions, stand with workers as they organize and advocate for themselves, and strive for a safer, more empowered future for workers everywhere.”
As the son of a seamstress who worked in the textile factories of northern New Jersey, Chairman Menendez has been a steadfast champion of labor rights at home and abroad, recently urging the Biden administration to prioritize international labor rights ahead of the second Summit for Democracy. In 2021, Chairman Menendez introduced the Global Labor Support Act to advance internationally recognized labor rights around the world, and has also published reports (here, here) and chaired hearings (here, here) specifically on labor issues facing workers in Bangladesh.