Rana Plaza garment worker Monika Hambrom told a meeting in London UK about how she was trapped under the collapsed factory in the disaster in Bangladesh.
Monika, aged 25, was the breadwinner for her family who live in a rural village. Her story was a focal point of the launch of an ecumenical campaign to support the garment workers, with a campaign pack released by Bishop Paul Sarker, moderator of the Church of Bangladesh.
Anglicans are urged to write to their local clothing shop or MP to press for:
- Minimum workplace standards in factories that supply the export market.
- Fair wages for the garment workers who presently earn only 14 per cent of a living wage in Bangladesh.
- Foreign companies to support the International Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
- Assessments to be made by international investors of working conditions in Bangladesh to ensure significant and sustained improvements.
Bishop Paul Sarker joined the launch of the campaign by Skype, along with Monika Hambrom. Speaking through an interpreter, she described how, after the first cracks had appeared in the building, the rest of the building was evacuated. But the garment workers had been ordered into the factory to work – it was pay day so they had to work to get their pay cheques. She said that power in the building failed, so generators were started, producing vibration which made the cracks worsen.
When the building collapsed, she was buried. But fortunately part of her body was protruding from the rubble and rescue workers saw her and pulled her out. She said that although she is physically recovered, she still remembers the horror of the event. “I still see it – it comes in my dreams.”
The campaign – in the peak retailing season of Christmas and year end sales – aims to maximise pressure for reform. It is not aimed at boycotting the Bangladeshi garment industry, on which an estimated 80 per cent of the poor depend.
The Anglican Alliance produced the pack for the campaign which is being run by the Church of Bangladesh Group, chaired by Us and including the Church of Scotland, Methodist Church, CMS, Council for World Mission and Oxford Mission.