DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Two years ago today, an eight-story garment factory collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This was the worst garment factory disaster ever. More than a thousand workers died, and many more were injured. And the tragedy seemed all too preventable, as the BBC reported at the time.
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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Workers had complained the building was unsafe after cracks appeared. But they say local managers ordered them back in just an hour before the collapse.
GREENE: A BBC report from two years ago. We want to return now to the scene of that disaster. Journalist Amy Yee is on the line from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Amy, good morning.
AMY YEE: Good morning.
GREENE: So tell us how people are marking this anniversary.
YEE: So I just got back from the site of Rana Plaza. And there are hundreds if not more people who are gathered there. A lot of them are from various workers' unions or NGOs that work with workers. And there are also quite a lot of relatives of victims who were holding photos of their deceased or injured relatives and, you know, wanting to remember them and also talk with people about their stories.
GREENE: Since that disaster, there have been big clothing companies - I mean, H&M, Target, Wal-Mart - who pledged to make sure safety conditions were improved and something like this would be less likely to happen in the future. Has there been progress there?
YEE: There has been; that's the short answer. Right now, we're at a very critical stage where we - export factories that source to clothing brands like H&M are undergoing - they've finished inspection and they're undergoing - trying to fix these problems. So there have been about 2,700 inspections of 3,500 factories, so that's quite a huge number. Some factories are doing quite well with that, very well. They're progressing. Doing things like installing imported fire doors and sprinkler systems and hydrant pumps. This is a huge process - a very expensive one as well. And then there is also a segment of these factories who were not as quick to move with fixing these problems.
GREENE: And how do workers feel about the pace of change?
YEE: Workers that I've talked to - a lot of them are fairly positive about the safety changes that have happened. They're much more aware of security or safety threats like metal gates that can be locked, (inaudible) entrances and prevent workers from getting out - you know, looking at building structures for cracks.
I've had a couple garment workers who anecdotally told me that if they ever saw cracks like that, they wouldn't go into a factory no matter what. So there are signs of progress. And workers are aware of some of these things. But there's more work to be done in making thousands of factories here safer.
GREENE: Amy Yee is a freelance journalist. She's in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed two years ago. Amy, thanks very much.
YEE: Thanks for having me.
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