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Rana Plaza compensation talks still frustrate

15 November, 2013The long overdue final agreement on compensation to Rana Plaza victims is still not finalised as brands continue to hesitate. Walmart, Carrefour, Bonmarché, Mango, Auchan and Kik refuse to sign the Arrangement.

Meeting yesterday, 14 November at the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the various parties involved in compensation negotiations once again discussed establishing a fund to pay survivors and families of the dead workers of Rana Plaza. Almost seven months have passed since the building collapse.

Relatives of the dead workers visit the Rana Plaza site every day in Savar, Bangladesh. While they remember their lost loved ones, the labels of well-known clothing brands are easy to find in the rubble next to them.

The situation for many of the survivors and their families is extreme. Rana Plaza survivors told IndustriALL at the site that around 90 per cent of all employees of the five collapsed factories are still unable to work due to the psychological damage the collapse caused.

How can the brands that sourced from Rana Plaza continue to refuse to pay what they are obliged under international employment standards and ILO Convention 121?

Said IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Monika Kemperle,

We can commend the brands who have so far been committed to the talks process and we have made good progress under the expert guidance of ILO. The Arrangement has been signed by four brands Primark, Loblaw, Bonmarche and El Corte Ingles. This Arrangement will establish the independent fund in Bangladesh into which the brands will pay, as well as local actors.

Those four brands have led the way and sent a clear signal to consumers everywhere of their sincerity to the accident in their supply chain. We call upon other brands to follow their example, and expect them to continue to lead with full commitment to the Arrangement and implement a joint response under the auspices of the Coordination Committee chaired by the ILO.

Yesterday’s meeting had participation via teleconference from ILO Dhaka with the Bangladeshi government, BGMEA, IndustriALL Bangladesh Council and the NCCWE Bangladeshi workers’ body.  

“All brands need to step up – and stop hiding or presenting excuses. No brand can go it alone on compensation – by doing so they will fail the majority of workers and any compensation paid out will be partial, limited and unpredictable." said Ineke Zeldenrust of the Clean Clothes Campaign. 

The Arrangement will ensure that ALL the victims of this terrible disaster finally get the compensation they deserve in a transparent manner with independent oversight. We are urging all brands to commit to signing the Arrangement now and to work with the committee to enable payments to begin.

The Bangladeshi government is under pressure to soon sign the MoU following minor amendments to the text, and BGMEA will follow.

Further discussion will consider how to incorporate the increased minimum wage, scheduled to be announced in a week’s time, into the compensation figures. The next compensation meeting is scheduled for 28 November.