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Rana Plaza compensation arrangement needs brands’ commitment

20 February, 2014The one-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza industrial homicide is approaching on 24 April. Only four brands have joined the Rana Plaza Arrangement, an ILO-led initiative to pay compensation to the injured and victims’ families.

Consumers around the world will be disgusted to know that this long list of brands connected with Rana Plaza is still refusing to join the Arrangement: Adler, Auchan, Benetton, Camaieu, Carrefour, Carrona, Cato Fashions, Children’s Place, JC Penney, Kids for Fashion, Lee Cooper, Manifattura Corona, Mango, Matalan, NKD, Premier Clothing, PVT (Texman), Store 21, Yes Zee, Walmart.

If a majority of these brands refuse to pay what they owe, the US$40 million needed for compensation in line with ILO standards will not be collected.

Well-known high-street brand Primark, based in Ireland, has played a leading role in the industry’s response to Rana Plaza. Primark paid the stopgap salaries to all 3,600 workers of Rana Plaza for the six months following the collapse, plus a further three months. Primark has also been an important partner in establishing the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee and the Arrangement framework. However, after months of joint work with the highest possible level of guidance from the ILO and UN international experts, Primark is now wavering.

Primark’s initial work in response to the Rana Plaza collapse was positive, including considerable humanitarian relief and work on the ground with the IndustriALL affiliated United Federation of Garment Workers.

Primark signed the Rana Plaza Arrangement with Loblaws, El Corte Ingles, and Bonmarche, together with IndustriALL Global Union, the Clean Clothes Campaign, Bangladeshi unions, the Bangladeshi government, and Bangladeshi manufacturers and employers’ associations. Each stipulation and condition in the Arrangement has been met. But now Primark is hesitating to commit, considering instead going it alone with its own scheme. This scheme is flawed in many ways, but most fundamentally in that it totally undermines the stringent, fair and transparent Arrangement.

The Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund has now been established by the Arrangement. The large number of brands that source from Bangladesh but which were not connected to Rana Plaza are being asked to make voluntary payments into the fund.

Mascot and El Corte Ingles are the only companies to have publically contributed to the fund so far.

You and your organization can also make a solidarity payment into the fund by following the instructions on the dedicated website of the Rana Plaza Arrangement.

IndustriALL Global Union Assistant General Secretary Monika Kemperle stated:

Only two brands connected with Rana Plaza have paid into the fund. We implore the rest to pay up now. We urge people to write on their Facebook pages, write on the websites of their national media, and mobilise at the stores of these companies. It is time to name, shame and campaign. On 24 April, one year will have passed since the horror of Rana Plaza. No more excuses. The fund is set up, the management of the fund is reliable, and every part of the mechanism has been negotiated and agreed by all concerned. The support and commitment from all the major stakeholders has been attained. The only outstanding action now is for the brands to pay. The necessary total of US$40 million is realistic. We need all supporters of this initiative to exert their strong influence over these image-conscious clothing companies.