ETUC demands ahead of the 9th anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster (24/04/2022)


9 years after the Rana Plaza disaster, workers in Europe and in the world cannot wait any longer: the ETUC calls for zero tolerance for doing business in breach of human rights 

Why? Because labour is not a commodity: workers’ life and security should not be negotiated nor put at risk by business models! 

However, business models based on externalisation of labour costs means lowering to the absolute minimum any workers’ protection and their rights to organise: violations of workers and trade union rights are on the rise: in Europe, 73% of countries have violated the right to strike, 54% of countries have violated the right to collective bargaining, 41% of countries have excluded workers from the right to establish and join a trade union, 34% of countries in Europe have denied workers access to justice; 22% of countries in Europe have restricted free speech and assembly.

Nine years after the Rana Plaza disaster, where a building collapsed with thousands of workers working for well-known garment brands, where at least 1,134 of workers died and so many more were badly injured, little has been done to stop business optimisation on the back of workers.

The ETUC calls on the European Union to live up to its commitment and make business accountable for the negative impacts of their operation on people and the planet.  

The tabled draft EU directive on corporate sustainability due diligence is far from a game changer. What would make the difference?

  • A sustainable business governance, where collective agreements negotiated with trade unions shape and monitor business human rights due diligence plans and strategy and where workers representatives are informed and consulted in view of reaching agreements to better protect workers;
  • Human rights due diligence obligations for all businesses, including supply chains, in order to stop social dumping and regime shopping; such obligations should create a level playing, legal certainty and predictability for all on the basis of fair competition rules instead of the proposed fragmentation due to SMEs exception.
  • Clear and concrete measures to support victims of human rights violations such as reversing the burden of proof in favour of victims, facilitating their access to justice, and to meaningful remediation
  • Dissuasive and effective sanctions for businesses violating human rights

The ETUC calls on the European Commission to send a clear message and take concrete actions: ban products and services in breach of workers and trade union rights; restrict access to the internal market to businesses violating human rights in Europe and in the world.