On April 24, 2013, Aklima Khanam was forced to go to work despite serious structural problems at Rana Plaza, the building her garment factory was in. A half hour after commencing, the electricity went out. When the backup generator was started, the building collapsed, pinning Khanam under a machine for 12 hours. 1,136 others died in one of the biggest industrial disasters in the history of the industry.
Khanam and the other workers have received a few promises from brands like Children’s Place and Wal-Mart, but they have yet to receive full and fair compensation for their physical and mental traumas. Moreover, the physical infrastructure of the Bangladeshi garment sector is in a dire state according to union activists like Aleya Akter of the Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Federation, and another disaster like Rana Plaza is just a matter of time. Even so, companies like Wal-Mart refuse to sign on to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh that would provide the most effective means to prevent future tragedies like this one by promoting independent health and safety inspections and providing workers a voice in their workplace through a union.