A year after one of the deadliest industrial accidents in history, multinational clothing brands are failing to meet the US$40 million target to pay fair compensation to the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster.
More than 1,100 people were killed and a further 2,000 were injured when the eight-storey Rana Plaza garment factory building in the capital Dhaka collapsed on 24 April 2013.
Brand contributions to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund remain woefully inadequate; so far only around US$15 million has been paid into the fund, established to give financial and medical support to the victims and their families consistent with guidelines set by the International Labour Organization (ILO).
IndustriALL Global Union’s general secretary, Jyrki Raina said:
We urge all the brands that have been working in Bangladesh to contribute to the fund with a considerable sum. They share a collective responsibility for this profoundly unsustainable production model and its hazards. This model that we are now about to change.
The Donors Trust Fund was established by the Rana Plaza Arrangement, a neutral and independent body of stakeholders, chaired by the ILO, to which IndustriALL is a signatory.
The Arrangement has already begun the process of registering claimants. Executive Commissioner, Rana Plaza Arrangement Coordination Committee, Dr. Mojtaba Kazazi said:
“If funds are available, everything will be done within six months and it’ll be over with. If funds will not be available then in fact we haven’t made a service to these people because that means we have already raised even more expectations and if we are not able to meet that, it will not be a good situation.”
Ineke Zeldenrust from the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) said:
"The lack of action is shocking; brands such as Benetton, Adler Modermarkte, Carrefour and Matalan have so far failed to make any contributions to the Trust Fund, and they must pay up now. Current levels of contributions are clearly inadequate - Mango, KIK, Inditex and C&A are all brands that need to increase their payments. So far only Loblaw has agreed to pay an extra US$1.54million, bringing their total contribution to US$3.63million. The victims have suffered long enough, as the first anniversary approaches there can be no more excuses."
“The Rana Plaza disaster was a devastating wake up call for brands sourcing from garment factories in Bangladesh. One year on, IndustriALL, together with UNI Global Union and our partner NGOs, is fighting harder than ever to improve safety in the Bangladeshi garment industry, which has taken the lives of more than 1,800 workers in the last seven years,” added Raina.
More than 160 brands have signed up to Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, a legally-binding agreement brokered by IndustriALL and UNI to improve safety conditions at 1600 factories, covering around 2 million workers.
By the end of September 2014, all factories producing garments for the Accord’s signatories will have been inspected and recommendations made for the repairs of dangerous factories.
UNI Global Union’s General Secretary, Philip Jennings said, “The Accord team on the ground are taking tough decisions. When work at a factory is suspended it can cause hardship to workers but there is no choice when we have another potential Rana Plaza on our hands.”
“This project is not only about safety, it’s also about getting rid of the poverty wages in Bangladesh. Last year, after a long campaign and mobilization, the Bangladeshi government finally agreed in November to raise the minimum wage from 38 to 67 US dollars a month. But this is only the first step towards a living wage to which every worker, man and woman, is entitled. We have to continue with annual revisions and the brands and the retailers have to pay a fair price to the factory owners to guarantee a living wage.”