June 29, 2013, students, workers, and community members in over 35 cities across the world took action against Gap and Walmart as part of an International Day of Action to End Deathtraps to demand the companies abandon a fake, non-binding safety program and join the legally-enforceable Bangladesh Safety Accord, an agreement with labor unions signed by over 50 other brands.
This was the single largest mobilization in solidarity with Bangladeshi workers since the devastating Rana Plaza building collapse that killed 1,127 garment workers in April, with actions in the US, Canada, the UK, Japan, and Australia. Bangladeshi workers and their unions also organized a demonstration at the site of the Rana Plaza collapse and held a press conference with children whose parents died in factory disasters.
Still, the fight for safe workplaces is far from over. Gap and Walmart will continue to maneuver to undermine the efforts of Bangladeshi workers to abolish deathtrap conditions in their factories. That’s why this summer, USAS is laying the groundwork for a sweeping campaign to demand that brands producing apparel for our universities take responsibility for the conditions of Bangladeshi workers. As part of this effort, we’re sending a delegation of students to Bangladesh to strengthen our solidarity and coordination with workers and their unions.
Public outrage at sweatshops conditions hasn’t been this high since the late 90’s — the era that spawned USAS and the modern anti-sweatshop movement. In this second wave of the movement, USAS will fight harder than ever because the stakes of our work are higher than ever.
Travel to Dhaka isn’t cheap — a single round-trip ticket is nearly $2,000 — but it’s critically important that we build direct relationships between students and workers so that our campaigning stays focused on what really matters to workers and unions on the ground.
Thanks for your solidarity,