Make Matalan Pay Up

29 July 14

Posted at 3:52


This is Moya. On 24th April 2013 Moya was seriously injured when the Rana Plaza building collapsed. 1134 of her colleagues lost their lives. 2400 were like Moya injured, many will never work again. Moya was a garment worker in one of the five factories housed in the Rana Plaza. They made clothes for Western retailers. They made them for a pittance soWestern retailers could maximise their profits. The result was unsafe working conditions and this terrible tragedy. Most of the 20 plus retailers who sourced clothes from the Rana Plaza manufacturers have made payments to a compensation fund to help the survivors and the bereaved families. MATALAN a British Company has failed to make the payment of £3m they are required to inder a compensation agreement. Yesterday their managemnt said "we are feelimng the pressure but have not yet decided to pay".

Feeling the pressure??????? Think of the pressure Moya felt when her leg was crushed. Think of the pressure she and her family are under without work in one of the poorest countries in the world. Then think hard before yopu ever spend a penny with MATALAN. They have now just 48 hours to pay or the funds will never reach those it is intended for. This tragedy happened 15 months ago.

Boycott Matalan, urge their management to think again, comment on their Facebook page .

I went to Savar last year. I met rescuers, survivors and the bereaved. I visited the site. This short film I made tells more  Twenty Days Later


Come on Matalan PAY UP.


Rana Plaza Tragedy

22 May 13

Posted at 9:18

This is my first photo blog of my Rana Plaza project with images. Poor internet access prevented me from uploading images. Since arriving home on Sunday i have been really busy with two exhibitions plus masses of processing for other work I undertook whilst in Bangladesh. Here then is just a snippet of the situation in Savar/Dhaka 20 days after the disaster.


The water filled gap beyond this barbed wire is where he eight story Rana Plaza building stood. The rescue operation was stood down on 14th May 2013 after every last piece of rubble had been sifted to ensure all bodies were recovered. Behind me when I shot this is about a thirty metre tranche of land with more substantial barriers and behind them, 21 days after the building collapse there are still hundreds of people, staring, praying and in many cases still waiting for news of missing relatives. The Army and Civil Defence organisations have today handed the site over to the civillian authorities. There is a smell of death in the air when you enter the site.


Officer Sahib

This is Officer Sahib of the Fire Rescue and Civil Defence - an organisation more like the military than the military. This man was one of those in overall control of the rescue operation. For the last twenty one days he has worked 12 hours on 12 hours off at the Rana Plaza site. I will recount some of his experiences in future blogs. Due to his command and the services of hundreds of volunteers from Red Crescent and University students along with untrained civilian volunteers victims, even though seriously injured had their lives saved. Like this girl, one of 420 taken to the Pangu Hospital in Dhaka.

Rana Plaza Survivor

She is 19 years old and is pictured here with her husband. they have no children. Her left leg is amputated just below the hip, her right leg has three fractures. Above the obvious fears for her future due to her injuries I feel it will be a challenge for her husband to reamin supporting her in the harshness of the poverty and the cultural pressures that will be on them. She was paid just £34 a month for working seven days a week, 12 hours a day, in an unsafe, overcrowded building. A building constructed illegally on land that was grabbed by a crook who had alliegencies with local politicians. All that made possible so the likes of Primark amongst others can supply our country with cheap clothes. Another penny on a £20 top from Primark would have doubled this girl's, and the 4300 others who worked in the Rana Plaza, salaries. Five pence on a £20 top might have meant that higher safety standards could have been enforced, 1127 workers would still be alive, 2000 would not have both physical and mental scars and up to 500 would not still be unaccounted for.

Grieving Mother

Every day since 24th April this lady has come to the site to search for her daughter. Her grief does not diminish and nor does her hope. Hope was that, like others, there may have been a miracle and her daughter would be found alive. Now the hope is that her daughter's body will be found - it won't! I have seen for myself there is no way any body has not been found. Most likely her daughter is amongst many who have been buried anonymously for two reasons, one being that the bodies were stored in the open air, 35 degrees centigrade in the day, in the playing fields of the Adhar Chandra High School which is were bodies were taken for relatives to collect them. The  other reason being that the Muslim faith requires bodies to be buried within 24 hours of death - of course some leeway could be made but at some point for both reasons burial is appropriate. All unknown bodies that were buried  were DNA screened so at some point I have no doubt this lady will have a match made. But that is not on her mind at present. I guess there is a slim chance her daughter is actually in one of the numerous hospitals that took the injured. Let's hope so.

Widower and Orphan

I visited an area of Dhaka where many garment factory workers live together. They live in corrugated huts similar to what they would have had in their villages many hundreds of kilometres outside of Dhaka. I went there at the request of a representative of the National Federation of Garment Workers intending to meet survivors who were less injured or had been unscathed and to meet bereaved families. As I was leaving this man and his son appeared and the man insisted I photographed them. His wife, the boy's Mother worked at Rana Plaza and is missing. Father and son were as grief stricken as I have seen anyone. The Dad refuses to believe his wife can be dead. He seemed to think that my photographing them would bring her back. 



Rana Plaza Project Day One

15 May 13

Posted at 4:52

Unfortunately technology has defeated me so I am currently unable to upload images. So just a text update . Today I started by visiting a hospital to meet and photograph injured survivors. I met many men and women with limb and spinal injuries. Many a who had undergone amputations. The most severely injured appear to have been on the fifth floor. One man I met was trapped for three days. I interviewed the hospital director, a proud man who spoke impressively how his staff have coped and will continue to cope for many months in rehabilitating the many injured. 

I then visited the site of the Rana Plaza building. It was handed over to the civilian authorities from the army yesterday. It is not possible that there are any more bodies to be recovered but there are still over 100 , some reports say 500, missing. I met people with missing relatives at the site still praying that their loved ones bodies will be found. They won't! 

Next I visited an area where many garment workers and their families live in houses constructed of corrugated iron. Again I met survivors less severely injured and I met bereaved families and again families with missing relatives.

I visited the school where ambulances took the deceased as they were recovered. Where relatives came to identify and take away their dead. A pile of coffins awaits more deceased but none will be found. Those unclaimed had DNA taken and were buried. According to their relgion Muslims should be buried within 24 hours of death when possible.

I expect many of those 'missing' have in fact been buried and in time through DNA will be identified.

I spent a long time with the military who have taken Reshma, the girl who was trapped for 17 days, to their hospital. After getting in touch with a Colonel at the military HQ who is the person who could grant me permission to meet and photograph her he advised me of the paperwork he would require to make a decision. He required it to be hand delivered to him and he said he would look positively on it. However the documents he requires will take me a day or two to compile and then   he will wish to deliberate. Well I fly home on Sunday so guess I will have to leave it this time. 

I visited a second hospital and met more survivors.

Tomorrow I am meeting the rescuers, civilian university students, the Red Crescent and the Fire Service. Then I will visit and photograph workers in a typical garment factory.

Today has been interesting in many ways it has also been very distressing at times. Retailers in the West must provide financial compensation to the thousands affected by this tragedy and must ensure that safety standards are improved urgently.

I will blog some images when I can get suitable Internet connections!