A group of survivors of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh say they have been encouraged by news of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, the landmark agreement that aims to improve factory safety in the country’s garment sector, but called on global brands to step up compensation payments.
In a visit to the site of the tragedy, in which 1,129 workers lost their lives six months ago, representatives from IndustriALL and UNI, the two global unions that drove the accord, spoke to survivors and explained the series of new commitments, to which over 100 global brands have now signed.
At the site of the tragedy, families held pictures aloft of their loved ones still to be traced. Many told stories of what happened to them on 24th April this year.
Runa Rani was working in Rana Plaza when the building went down. She lost her eighteen year old daughter in the collapse and is yet to trace the body.
“We were forced to join work by our supervisor. We had been worried about a crack in the building but our supervisor said he had checked it and it was OK. After half an hour in the factory, the electricity cut out. Immediately after they started the generator, the building collapsed,” she said.
“I fell from the fourth floor. I lost consciousness and woke up four hours later. I have not seen my daughter since.”
IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina said, “It is stories like Runi’s that maintain our unwavering resolve to bring justice for the workers of Rana Plaza and throughout the garment sector in Bangladesh.”
Compensation negotiations are continuing on the international level, chaired by the ILO, convened by IndustriALL and supported by UNI. Whilst Primark has lead the way by paying six months worth of wages to families, the payments run out this month and all other brands are still to follow suit.
UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings said, “These families will never forget what happened at Rana Plaza six months ago and neither will we.
“That’s why UNI and IndustriALL implemented the Accord, why 100 brands have now signed up, and why we will stand united with the workers on the six month anniversary of this terrible tragedy.”
October 24th will mark six months since the Rana Plaza collapse. Various public demonstrations are planned including by families seeking a fair compensation settlement. Many of the survivors have suffered major injuries including lost limbs and are unable to work. Many of those killed were the sole money earners in their family.
IndustriALL and UNI will mark the anniversary with workers in Bangladesh. Top-level talks involving unions, brands, government and employers, will coincide with a week of action on safety and working conditions.