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Case Study on Rana Plaza Garment Factory

In April 2013, the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed upon its workforce, killing approximately 1,200 workers and injuring about another 2,000. The incident served to highlight the plight of low-paid Bangladeshi workers forced to work in dangerous conditions for the profit of big multinationals and shoppers in first world countries who want $2 shirts.You are to investigate what happened at Rana Plaza and identify the ethical issues involved. Explain whether these issues are particularly difficult or unique to multinational companies (MNCs).Continuing with the Rana Plaza case, investigate what has happened since for the people of Bangladesh, and whether the MNCs associated with Rana have done more to recognise and act upon their ethical obligations.You should also look at how social media has placed pressure upon these MNCs through activism and stakeholder pressure. Does social media continue to play a positive role for the workers of Bangladesh, or is it only interested in a quick "Twitter moment"?



Executive Summary

The study analyses affirm named Rana Plaza. First part of the study has evaluated all the ethical issues that are involved in the firm and has even tried to find out whether such issues are specifically difficult or are very unique to all the multinational firms existing. Analysis of such ethical issues will ensure that the firm understands what all wrong is going in and around and then take actions for the improvement of the same. In the later part a continuation is made with the case of Rana plaza and proper investigation is being done regarding things that happened with public in Bangladesh and what all benefits did employees receive. Also the later part analyses that whether all the MNCs that were associated with Rana Plaza did something for recognizing and taking actions for the ethical concerns or have just left it behind and moved on.Also the study has evaluated the use and work of social media in the case and has tried to find ways in which social media had pressurized MNCs to act up with all the ethical obligations.


In the month of April of the year 2013 severly crowded garment factory Rana Plaza situated in outskirts of the capital named Dhaka collapsed and killed 1,138 textile labors as well as injured above 2,000 people. Above 150 international brands also signed Accord upon the Fire as well as Building Safety within Bangladesh which even allows employees to stop the work if my any means their safety comes under any kind of threat? Factory complex also produced clothes intended for a variety of Western firms, majority of which promised to recompense victims as well as their families (Gifford and Ansett, 2015).

What actually happened?

In present years rapid growth of industry of ready-made clothing within Bangladesh has actually resulted in extra increased demand intended for very high-rise buildings. Several ordinary buildings also have been rehabilitated into factories as well as sometimes owners of these buildings also add some extra floors with no appropriate permission, like the case with Rana Plaza. Within this exacting case several government authorities also have particularly failed towards inspecting as well as monitoring all of the unlawful establishments of the factory named Rana Plaza. Also after cracks upon building were demonstrated in regional media, government also failed to take any action towards saving lives of many impoverished labors. Additionally to role played through Western firms which attain profit from the Bangladesh’s inexpensive labor, the Western media may also perform well towards focusing upon as well as exposing the political corruption of Bangladesh towards an international audience (ABC news, 2014). Systemic breakdown of the government security of the human rights as well as lack of the respect for workers’ appropriate right permits the incident such as Rana Plaza case to carry on to perform the same. Beyond famously small wages and unsafe working situations plus restrictions as well as repression of the labor unions plague this industry. Rana Plaza tragedy is now a days making history because amongst most horrible manufacturing accidents within Bangladesh, along with the increasing death toll as well as scores extra critically injured. Now is time to initiate wide variety protests within UK as well as other portions of western world, towards making regional people aware about noxious work ecology and deaths of all such poor employees by profit-hungry trade people that control whole clothing industry. Most of the blame lies along with the governments of Bangladesh of every stripe that has made merely elementary attempts towards enforcing national construction code, specially against the politically well-associated landlords. The attention is thus upon multinational firms whose instructions from regional factory owners also has led towards rapid current development of garment industry within Bangladesh, which is actually globe’s second-largest and a very vast supplier of clothing later than China.

Ethical concerns

Many actors actually share the liability of the tragedy that took place in Rana Plaza. The main responsibility actually fell upon Bangladeshi authorities because they in reality failed in fulfilling each of their obligations towards protecting the workers. Private actors also implicated within disaster even shared the responsibility, that is owners of the building of Rana Plaza as well as of garment factories that the firm held, and also multinational firms that actually sourced from all these garment firms. The nations where international brands were also headquartered must also make sure that, via national legislation as well as through supporting development of the global standards that the corporations on basis of their territory otherwise within their authority do never contributed towards violations of any of the human rights while they also conducted business overseas. Rana Plaza arrangement did never meet any of the security and safety codes as well as was built plus expanded without any permit. RAJUK was a government authority that was responsible for such catastrophe (Briefing: The requirement to pass the Australian examination has been waived..., 1999). As per the Detail location Plan of RAJUK, actually no profitable building might be built within otherwise around the Dhaka without the authorities’ permission. Owners of Rana Plaza had never received any such permit for construction this was really unethical on part of the firm and its owners.


State of the Bangladesh, which as per the national as well as international law should also protect all the human rights in its authority, failed within all their duty towards guarantying rights as well as safety of the textile staffs. Bangladesh that is also considered as a very weak governance state also faces structural issues like lack of the genuine rule and regulation of the law, inadequate as well as scarce inspection procedures, and generally ineffective admittance towards justice for the victims of the work-linked accidents. Firm, be national otherwise multinational must have even failed to support their errands under national as well as international regulation. These factories might have undergone some regular social audits, needed as well as financed through international purchasers, for verifying observance with the codes of conduct as well as social charters recognized by brands. Rana Plaza tragedy also was a barefaced illustration of uselessness and meagerness of such audits within Bangladesh. Among such believe to be in a straight line responsible are owners of the Rana Plaza, owners of five garment plant housed in the Rana Plaza and also the engineers of the Savar Municipality.

The main ethical reasons for building issues were:

  • Building was built without anyproper and written authorization from the concerned authority.
  • Conversion took place from marketable use to the industrial use
  • Addition of extra 3 floors within the comparison towards the original permit
  • Use of the substandard material for construction of the building that in reality was the vast reason for collapse and also lead towards a burden on building structure provoked by the vibrations because of generators and many other heavy and moving tools and equipments (CLOUGH, 1982).

All such several elements actually indicated doubtful business carry out by the owners of the firm and raised a question mark on the effectiveness and seriousness of the board of directors towards fulfillment of their responsibilities towards the labors and even the society. Rana actually was seen to follow dubious organizational practices. Many people even argued that decision by managers for sending the workers back to factories were also due to pressure towards completing orders for Brands on the desired and set time. The second argument gave a blame for disaster upon short production time limit that was imposed by many Western purchaser that were themselves because of quick alterations of the designs and the fast fashion, towards irresponsible buying carry out of all the Western buyers as well as finally towards capitalism like competition that leads certainly to price cutting as well as shortcuts upon safety. Many people also said that reason why workers pierced again in factories was that they actually were not jointly organized within a proper trade union, as well as were never strong to reply to pressure of the management. Many restrictions within law as well as administrative practices also made it certainly difficult for the unions to arrange. It also was supposed that union actions would enhance workforce costs as well as endanger industry of Bangladesh for garments.

Real decisions

Ignoring such problems or merely moving operations somewhere else was not a satisfactory decisions and solution to the problem. Pressure was required to be located upon factory owners as well as Bangladesh government towards engaging in answerable measures for alterations. Representatives that were from the European plus American retailers and trade as well as labor organizations, interior and exterior monitors as well as any and every relevant party also continued towards meeting and discussions of several alternative actions which will later serve towards lessening likelihood as well as severity of the issues in the factory that resulted in loss of many lives (FIDH, 2015). Priorities also were established for extra egregious issues that were addressed. Clearly considerable time as well as money was also needed as problems were very big. These problems never developed overnight plus it was also not sensible to anticipate a very quick fix. But grave nature of things that were occurring does morally lead towards a call intended for captivating action at the time.


The disaster resulted in outrage within West, through several people questioning about the ethics of the multinational firms using dangerous factories towards making their goods. The controversy also led towards improvement yet there was long path yet to go. There also was very huge expression of the public anger subsequent to when people saw a million around globe signing petitions and also calling upon several firms to alter, also since then many firms have signed up towards a compulsory agreement to perform for making the factories safer thus the firm has seen several improvements. But pragmatically the firm is still demonstrating many of similar kind of approaches from firms that they actually think can shun responsibility intended for the factories. Till date merely one firm that sourced labors from factory at Rana Plaza to make its clothes also paid recompense to all the victims who were a part of the disaster and who were affected with the same in the factory outlet.

Role of social media 

Rana Plaza firm stood in the Dhaka, Bangladesh, which was a pile of the twisted metal as well as concrete rubble assembly once unmoved since day of the collapse. Plants grew from amid molding fabric discarded in wreckage. If any positive could be found, it was that the Rana Plaza actually has been proper turning point for 21stCentury equal of the New York's 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire that in reality killed about 146 workers yet led towards a properly unionized and safe article of clothing industry. Yet, while this protected workers of the USA, today, place of work laws must actually straddle global boundaries as well as cultural practices that also involve brands and governments, employers, as well as trade unions plus also consumers. It also is a fraught along with the complication. This created extra red tape all around the trading within Bangladesh which also led to firms taking all their businesses towards less controlled locations that added unemployment towards suffering.


Slowly, hopefully all the attitudes were also changing towards ethics of the clothes manufacture, as well as ethical fashion shift was growing within the momentum. The disaster's predictability was actually its greatest indignation. The outcome of very complicated global supply chain which exonerates the Western retailers commencing responsibility of actually protecting people and then making clothes was extremely susceptible to the corruption as well as abuse (Quinlan, 1999). The truth that the building of the firm, that was illegally expanded towards the factories in excess of eight floors also was not fit within the state that was very common and where the bankers plus all the shop workers also evacuated days prior, but garment labors were endangered with trailing their jobs only if they did refuse to return to the job overtime within groaning building. The ultimate collapse also took for merely 90 seconds. Victims and all their families have explained the deaths and said that it was simply a murder.

Reactions of the MNCS:

Nevertheless, in instant aftermath of factory disaster, some firms astonishingly spoke bewilderment regarding whether the factories actually shaped their products or not. Indeed, as an outcome of the multinational corporations that outsourced all of their production to the nations like Bangladesh, self-governing contractors frequently made decisions within the complex and vital supply chains. Firms also understood that the cost and their differentials, were the actual reasons of outsourcing within first place, amid developed as well as developing countries suggest situations at factories that were probably substandard, and merely empirical proof could disprove thing like this (Oaten, 2015). Some people even argue that the multinational firms have many duties, in their self factories as well as in the contract firms and all of these duties need to ensure that dignity of the labors is being respected.  Such duties are of paramount as of power that they carry over owners as well as managers of any such factories plus even because of substantial resources next to their disposal. Firms must therefore, be in reality accountable for all types of sourcing of the transparent suppliers as well as for quickly identifying problems in every of their supply chains.


Responses of the multinational firms as well as the governments towards factory collapse in reality were of different types. European Union endangered to change its Common System of the Preferences for enforcing government of Bangladesh to obey standards of international labor. Bangladesh also exports about 60% of garment to Europe beneath this standard, which also supplies Asian nation a proper duty-free as well as quota free admittance to EU market. Nevertheless, EU has decided alongside such spontaneous reaction. In the statement, firm announced its wish of remaining engaged within the Bangladesh for preserving preferential action access towards EU market that has vastly helped the socio-economic growth over many years. Without delay following Rana Plaza fail, survivors as well as their families actually received many emergency allowances from government, NGOs as well as from some global brands. Bangladesh piece of clothing Manufacturers in addition to Exporters distributed salaries plus allowances to many of the workers, yet not to each of them (Kemper and Martin, 2015).

Through Rana Plaza the claims processes for the compensation also were initiated in month of March in the year 2014. Victims as well as their families also received many legal aid plus even obtained data and information through calling on a hotline prior to applying for the recompense. The payments were made appropriate to national laws in addition to ILO standards plus serve towards covering the medical costs as well as loss of the income. As per compensation procedures, 3,600 appropriate victims as well as their families received advance of some 50,000 before the month of April 24 in the year 2014 plus all recompense applications also were processed within next 6 months of receiving.

After the incident

Rana Plaza and its Donors, established via Rana Plaza firm, accepted charitable donations from many international brands as well as several private donors. Approximately half of more otherwise less than some thirty international brands that were the clients of Rana Plaza factories also contributed towards the donation and the fund. Unions as well as international NGOs also continued to set pressure upon multinational brands, particularly those that were customers of the Rana Plaza, towards donating to voluntary fund (Jones, 2015). As per the Donors of Rana Plaza Trust Fund approximation, osme $40 million were actually required to sufficiently compensate 3,600 survivors as well as their families. French government even asked all the French businesses a proper contribution to fund and they were asked to pay even if these firms were not the actual clients of the firm named Rana Plaza that underwent the disaster. FIDH that collaborated with multinational retailer for many years called up enterprise for signing Fire as well as Building proper Safety Agreement that it did. FIDH also encouraged every of global brands that worked within Bangladesh, plus all of firms belonging to international communal Compliance agenda, towards contributing to voluntary fund. 

Social media plus its role

The social media played a vital role on and after the incident took place and made the labors aware about the facts of trade union and benefits of the same as well as gave details about the advantages of being in a trade union and security and safety standards of workers for which they must demand.

  1. Consumers became aware of the problem in supply chain of the firm. Campaign firms played a vital role. Social media also showed a attention on problem that were never marked before.
  2. Above 150 firms signed Accord upon Fire plus Safety within Bangladesh. This was a legally compulsory agreement amid the firms and the unions that were companies committed towards independent analysis and see-through reporting, comprising of growing strong labor-management societies in the factories. Brands also had committed towards working along with the factories to properly fix problems and wherever necessary, contribute financially towards performing such actions. At this time, 27 brands of US also placed own non-lawfully obligatory industry-oriented version, pact for the Bangladesh labor Safety.
  3. Many brands functioning within the Rana Plaza also paid recompense to victims, while several didn’t.
  4. US suspended, awaiting improvement within the workers human rights, Bangladesh's favored status beneath proper trade policy recognized as generalized scheme of partiality, affecting wide range of the non-garment supply.
  5. Membership firms for the garment workers, like Bangladesh Centre intended for the Workers harmony, that was targeted by government of Bangladesh were allowed to function freely.
  6. There was an understanding about different cluster of skills as well as technical know-how is needed to covenant with the fire, electrical as well as structural security issues. Earlier, there existed little ability in all such areas.
  7. Bangladesh government also delivered some 77% enhancement in minimum wage till $68 every month for all the garment labors.
  8. Bangladesh’s factory owners recognized that they would face vast threat towards "made within Bangladesh" brand only if product were not changed (Jennings, 1963).
  9. Brands were shifting from the actual short-term dealings to lesser but extra strategic as well as lengthier partnerships along with the manufacturers.
  10. Novel investment models were also being developed towards upgrading factories within Bangladesh and making these factories very productive, ethical as well as sustainable whilst lowering the risk.


Moreover, several challenges remained in the firm. It was still very difficult for the unions to properly negotiate the collective bargaining and its agreements. And auditing as well as monitoring industry which had failed for many years was the main equipment towards addressing the labor issues within Bangladesh. A lesser amount of visibility issues like overtime and also unauthorized subcontracting as well as discrimination plus even harassment yet existed. Millions of less-income labors have started using smart phones as well as have got access towards the social media. Now they are actually tweeting as well as are posting all their experiences upon the social platforms. Data are now flowing extra freely all across industry. Thus people are able to know about clothes that are made in factories.


ABC news, (2014). Bangladesh accuses 17 over Rana Plaza factory collapse which killed over one thousand. ABC news.

Briefing: The requirement to pass the Australian examination has been waived... (1999). BMJ, 319(7209), pp.3a-3a.

CLOUGH, R. (1982). Landscaping factory sites. Australian Planner, 20(4), pp.158-158.


Gifford, J. and Ansett, S. (2015). 10 things that have changed since the Bangladesh factory collapse. The guardian.

Jennings, J. (1963). Collapse doline. Australian Geographer, 9(2), pp.121-121.


Jones, D. (2015). How The World Has Changed Since Rana Plaza. Vogue News,

Kemper, A. and Martin, R. (2015). Dhaka factory collapse: who will prevent another tragedy?. The guardian,

Oaten, J. (2015). Rana Plaza anniversary: compensation remains low for victims of Bangladeshi garment factory collapse. ABC news.

Quinlan, C. (1999). The Effects of Outsourcing on Occupational Health and Safety: A Comparative Study of Factory-Based Workers and Outworkers in the Australian Clothing Industry. International Journal of Health Services, 29(1), pp.83-107.

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