Factory collapse puts spotlight on child labour

Apr 24, 2014
10-Minute Read
Above: World Vision Canada President Michael Messenger tours the site of the Rana Plaza collapse with a World Vision Bangladesh staff member. 

In 2013, the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh, killing more than 1,100 people. In the days that followed, Canadians watched in horror as information was released linking some of their favourite clothing brands with garments being sewn in that very building. The Rana Plaza was a crumbling and unsafe building in which many workers had received an ultimatum that day after complaining about dangerous cracks in the structure: go to work now or lose your pay.
Suddenly, Canadians saw themselves connected to human rights violations and the global supply chain, and realized their part in helping desperately poor adults and children suffering long hours in terrible conditions to make cheap clothing.
Children Trapped in Dangerous Jobs
In Bangladesh and elsewhere in the world, children – some as young as four – are part of complex supply chains leading to stores in our neighbourhoods. They are trapped in dirty, dangerous, and degrading forms of child labour making garments, shoes or toys, lowering themselves into dangerous mines, processing shrimp or other delicacies, or being trafficked into the sex trade.
World Vision Canada’s No Child For Sale campaign is focused on helping all children trapped by child labour to regain their childhood by:
•    Giving Canadians information on how to be more ethical consumers
•    Helping consumers communicate their concerns about child labour to Canadian companies
•    Asking companies to examine their supply chains to ensure they don’t include child labour
•    Encouraging our government to urge other governments to protect labour rights and children’s rights.
Fight Slavery by Shopping
We are no strangers to terrible news from around the world. But the recent garment factory collapse in Bangladesh—that killed more than 200, injured over 1,000, and has left many more trapped in the rubble—heightens awareness about how Canadians’ purchasing power can affect the lives of people thousands of miles away. Let’s start making better decisions about what we buy, so we can help improve living and working standards for people around the world. Check out our Shop For Change guide below to get started!
Family Activities
Just about everyday we make purchases to take care of ourselves and to support the life we like to lead. Many make very intentional decisions about what they buy and why. Some have taken up the challenge of buying nothing new for a day, a month, a year, or more. Others focus on buying locally made products and produce.
These are all great examples of responsible consumerism. This resource will give you ideas for how you can grow or expand your responsible consumerism with your family. Let’s use our consumer power to contribute to healthier and better lives for ourselves, those around us, as well as to help reduce the number of children working in dirty, dangerous and degrading jobs.
Step 1: THINK critically about this complex issue. Explore what’s fuelling the problem and possible solutions.
Step 2: ACT by purchasing products that are more ethical using the information below and by asking our federal government to do something too!
Step 3: CHANGE your shopping behaviour and the way you view the products you buy.
Work your way through the Shopping Action List and keep us posted on your experiences through 1) email 2) Facebook.
Shopping for Change Action List:
  • Learn, Discuss, Read and Watch: Brainstorm activities you or your children do at home, school, or in the community that you consider to be normal work. How is this different from dirty, dangerous and degrading work?
  • Watch the BBC video Chocolate – The Bitter Truth (Part 1 of 5). After viewing, discuss: What surprised you? How is your life similar to or different from the children working on the cocoa farms? 
  • Fairtrade Scavenger Hunt: What does Fairtrade mean and how does it impact modern day slavery? Visit Fairtrade Canada to find out. Then, search your home and local shops for Fairtrade products. Use the Fairtrade Canada website to find stores that carry Fairtrade items. Take photos of your favourite or most unusual products and post them to our Facebook page.
  • The Big Swap: Swap some of your usual stuff for Fairtrade stuff. Or if you are making a bigger purchase, use goodguide.com or ethicalconsumer.org to help you decide what product might be your best choice. Tell us what and why you’re swapping or how your research changed your choices on our Voices for Children Facebook Group or by emailing us.
  • Fairtrade Ideas Bank: Brainstorm practical ideas for helping your school, workplace, church or community to use more Fairtrade items. Visit Fairtrade Canada for information. Share your idea on our Facebook page.