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Rana Plaza collapse spawns multi-billion dollar lawsuit

On April 24, 2013, thousands of employees were working at a garment factory in Bangladesh, unaware of the danger around them. When the factory suddenly collapsed, a minimum of 1,120 people were killed; the number could be higher, as it proved difficult and time-consuming to sort through the rubble. Authorities do know that more than 2,510 people were hurt. While there were minor injuries, many of those injuries were permanent and potentially life-altering.

As a result, a $2 billion class action lawsuit was started in the wake of the tragedy. It targets a number of companies that were getting garments from the factory: Joe Fresh Apparel Canada Inc, Loblaws Inc, and Loblaws Companies Limited.

When the lawsuit was started, it was pointed out that these workers made terrifically low wages and worked in a factory that was decidedly unsafe, with dangerous conditions all around them. The lawsuit asked the companies in Ontario to have some responsibility for the collapse and the workers that were creating their wares.

If such a factory was being run in Canada, it would never be up to code and the whole process would be disallowed under Canadian workplace standards laws. However, the companies were able to get around this by outsourcing the work and failing to do any inspections, despite the history of unsafe working condition in the area. For this reason, the lawsuit alleges that these companies have to be at least partially to blame for what took place.

It's crucial for companies to know what they're required to do to keep workers safe. This can be complicated when dealing with overseas facilities, but this lawsuit could help define what must be done.

Source: Rochon Genova, "Rana Plaza," accessed Aug. 05, 2016

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