Bangladesh factory collapse report released by St Albans MP

Workers watch as a crane lowers the ceiling of the garment factory building which collapsed in Savar

Workers watch as a crane lowers the ceiling of the garment factory building which collapsed in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh April 2013. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E) - Credit: AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

There are fears that Bangladesh is only ever one day from another industrial disaster, a report commissioned by St Albans MP Anne Main has warned.

On Monday the politician, in her role as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh (APPG), released the probe into the collapse of Rana Plaza in April, killing over 1,100 people.

The disaster, one of the worst industrial accidents in recent history, exposed major flaws within the ready made garment industry in Bangladesh, and prompted the APPG to launch a probe into the sector.

Mrs Main, who is also president of the Conservative Friends of Bangladesh, said the UK - as a major export market - had an important role to play in reforming the sector.

There are close ties between St Albans and the country as there are 5,000 Bangladeshi in the district, the largest such population in Herts.

The APPG has recommended swingeing changes to improve the industry, which provides employment for about 3.6 million people who are “labouring in precarious conditions”.

On April 23, cracks appeared in the walls of Rana Plaza. A day later the eight story multiplex collapsed, and over 1,100 of the estimated 5,000 workers who used the building were dead.

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Hundreds of factories have since undergone a “flurry of building inspections” according to the APPG report.

However in the words of one non-governmental organisation, there is a fear that Bangladesh is “only ever a day away from another industrial disaster and that [clothing] brands are only one accident investigation away from serious reputational damage.”

The APPG has called for clothing brands to invest further in their supply chain to improve workers’ skills. It also wants greater regulatory and infrastructure reforms.

And the group said independent or non-political professional bodies should be set up for both planning and building control.

The report added that the introduction of an ethical “kitemark” - a certification mark - on garments should be investigated to help drive improved standards.