Today is the solemn milestone of six months since 1,129 garment workers were killed in the industrial homicide at the Rana Plaza factory building collapse in Savar on 24 April. Only one brand has paid any compensation.
IndustriALL and UNI, the two global unions jointly working to make the garment industry in Bangladesh safe and sustainable, will stand with survivors and families of the dead at Rana Plaza today for a candlelit vigil at sundown. The two unions are shocked that still after six months Primark is the only brand to have paid anything to the victims.
Primark worked with local trade unions, organised through the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC), to establish the mechanism for distribution of compensation payments to over 3,600 workers and families. The method of payment, through bKash, cuts out any middleman and has the full endorsement of Rana Plaza workers.
IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina focuses on the Accord as the way to ensure that lasting change to the industry will be the legacy of the tragedy of Rana Plaza:
“All actors in the supply chain in Bangladesh agree that the enormous scale of the devastation at Rana Plaza gave all involved the historic chance to fix the industry’s safety problems. The Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh answers that call. The next five years will see the Accord regularly reporting success stories of factory repairs and improvements.”
UNI Global Union general secretary Philip Jennings continued:
“The Accord will continue to be the central engine maintaining the momentum for safety reform. The only way factory safety can be monitored and verified is with worker involvement, this international industrial relations agreement is built on this sentiment.”
The stance of the buyers to compensation has been varied, some refuse to engage, others vehemently deny a connection and some deny responsibility because their production ended some time ago or was outsourced to Rana Plaza without their knowledge.
Meanwhile, two committees established by the High Court in Bangladesh have proposed levels of compensation for the Rana Plaza victims almost identical to the workers’ demand, reflected in the IndustriALL/CCC/WRC proposal, of 1.8 million BTK (US$23,000) per family of the deceased.
As talks continue on the international level, survivors and victims’ families at Rana Plaza today remember their loved ones and all ask the same question: When will we finally receive compensation for our loss?