April 24, 2023 marks the tenth anniversary of the most horrific industrial ‘disaster’ (some would say massacre) in the history of the global garment industry — the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh. The figures are numbing – at least 1,134 dead, 2,500 missing and untold others injured and maimed. Labor organizers and others attribute this exceptionally
high death toll to, among other things, the absence of a meaningful union, or a collective voice to represent workers’ interests. On that fateful morning, threatened with loss of wages or dismissal, individual workers were in no position to refuse managerial instructions to enter a visibly fissured building.
Join us for a commemorative conversation on the evening of April 12 in which we “Remember the Dead and Fight for the Living,” as the memorable slogan from *Garment Sromik Shongoti goes.
Our discussion will draw on Bangladeshi feminist filmmaker Rubaiyat Hossain’s award-winning feature film, Made in Bangladesh. We will show clips from the film, which tells the story of Shimu, a young garment worker who struggles to establish a trade union at her workplace. Topics addressed will include the importance of the right to organize, an assessment of legal reforms in the past ten years, the public and private patriarchies that workers must navigate, and the possibilities for transnational and communal solidarity under conditions of late neoliberal capitalism.
*A Bangladeshi organization that supports garment workers, including survivors of Rana Plaza, in organizing for labor and gender justice.