March 17, 2015
Contact: Joshua Cullinan

MR - Murder Not Tragedy Exhibition


Photographic Exhibition of the Collapse of Rana Plaza, Bangladesh

Delegation Exposes Abuses of Workers Supplying Australian Retailers

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and Australia Bangladesh Solidarity Network (ABSN) in collaboration with Australia Asia Worker Links and other unions has planned a special Exhibition of photographs commemorating the collapse of Rana Plaza.

NTEU has sponsored Mushrefa Mishu, President of the Garment Workers Unity Forum (GWUF) to open the Exhibition and speak to workers in Australia about the conditions of workers in Bangladesh. GWUF is the largest progressive trade union representing garment workers in Bangladesh.

“Despite waiting for weeks for a visa to be issued we are yet to hear any outcome of the application. We can only assume the Australian government has decided to deny the application or to issue it at a date when it is too late for Mishu to open the Exhibition,” said Dr Colin Long, Secretary of the NTEU Victoria.

“Mishu is a well-travelled union leader and great advocate for fair and safe working conditions for her members – the lowest paid garment workers in the world.”

“She has travelled to over 14 countries, including through Europe, without any problem but the Abbott Government will do anything to stop Australians learning the truth behind the $5 price tags at their local retailer,” said Dr Long.

“On my last visit to Bangladesh in November we spoke to dozens of workers that are employed at numerous factories supplying Kmart, Target and Big W stores. They told us they regularly work up to 12 hours a day - often 7 days a week. Many incur injuries when they faint from exhaustion and hit their heads on machinery. They are abused and sacked without reason. One teenage girl told us her work made her so miserable she wanted to end her life,” said Dr Long.

“Just four months ago at a Bangladeshi factory supplying Target (Australia) a worker was killed and others maimed when a boiler ruptured,” ABSN Secretary, Josh Cullinan said.

“These so-called accidents will continue until we acknowledge and take responsibility for the conditions in which these workers work. This is the point of the Exhibition’s title, Murder, Not Tragedy. Workers were forced back into Rana Plaza after the walls had cracked the day before. There is no choice when refusal means sackings, starvation and worse,” said Josh Cullinan.

“Over the course of two visits to Bangladesh in 2014, we witnessed the legacy of Rana Plaza”, said Dr Long.

“The horror of the site remains but the devastation of so many lives is far more extensive. We believe that we owe it to Bangladeshi workers to ensure that their plight is not forgotten in the glitz and glamour of fashion week. Australian consumers need to know that many of the clothes they buy are made literally at the expense of workers’ lives in Bangladesh.”

Murder Not Tragedy is an exhibition of photographs about the Rana Plaza disaster compiled and originally shown in Dhaka in 2013. It is curated by Rezaur Rahman, General Manager of Drik (Sanskrit for ‘vision’), a major cultural and media organization based in the Bangladeshi capital.

On 24th April, 2013, more than 1100 garment workers perished in the collapse of Rana Plaza in Savar, Bangladesh. Over 2500 workers were injured; many are still missing.

The Exhibition commences an Australian tour this week in Melbourne.

Steps Gallery, 62 Lygon Street, 18-29 March 2015

Opening Night Launch, 7pm 19th March 2015

#RP13 by Killer

Responding to this week’s Melbourne Fashion Festival, ABSN has created an ironic fashion label, RP13 by Killer. Details can be found on Twitter (@ausbdsolidarity) or here:

Mishu, Colin Long and Josh Cullinan will be available for interview and comment.

Colin Long - 0403 920 361

Josh Cullinan - 0416 241 763

Mushrefa Mishu – contact via Elizabeth McGrath – 0401 478 883

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