Clothing brands fail Rana Plaza survivors

Two weeks before the first anniversary of the devastating building collapse, clothing brands contributions to Donor Trust Fund remain shockingly low.

As the first anniversary of the tragic collapse of Rana Plaza approaches global unions IndustriALL and UNI and leading labour rights network Clean Clothes Campaign today demand all brands associated with Rana Plaza pay up and ensure the survivors and victims families receive the much needed support before the first anniversary on April 24. 

The Donor Trust Fund, which provides a central coordinated approach to collecting claims and distributing the money, needs US$ 40 million in contributions to ensure that the 1,138 victims families and over 2,000 survivors receive much needed payments for loss of income and medical expenses.

To date just half the companies who have been connected to a factory in the building have made commitments, and the fund has just one third of the funds required.

Currently 15 brands, including Benetton, Matalan, Adler Modemarkte and Auchan, have failed to even make an initial contribution to the Donor Trust Fund,” says Phillip Jennings of UNI Global Union, “we call on all of them to immediately make a significant donation to the Donor Trust Fund – the only inclusive, transparent and ILO-recognised compensation programme for Rana Plaza victims.

Not all of the brands who have made donations have publicly stated how much they have contributed, however those that have have typically donated between US$500,000 and US$1 million.

Ineke Zeldenrust, of Clean Clothes Campaign says “The 29 brands that sourced from factories within Rana Plaza either at the time of the collapse or in the recent past have combined profits of well in excess of US$22 billion a year, they are being asked to contribute less than 0.2% of these profits to go some way towards compensating the people their profits are built on – the Donor Trust Fund has been open for two months now and it is still a long way off the US$40 million that is required. The Arrangement clearly has the necessary buy-in: the current donor list includes some of world's biggest brand names, from both Europe and the US,  but they are coming in with frankly shockingly low levels given what they can afford. .

It is clear that with two weeks to go and over two thirds of the money still needed even those brands who have made contributions need to make further donations, to bring their contributions up to a more significant level.

Only Primark have donated a more significant amount, with US$1 million directly to the Fund and payments made directly to workers in New Wave Bottoms, the factory they were sourcing from, implemented under the auspices of the scheme, taking their donation up to just under US$ 7 million.

The ILO chaired Arrangement under which the Donor Trust Fund is operated has already begun the process of registering claimants. Jyrki Raina, of IndustriALL Global Union says “The needs of the workers who survived this catastrophe and the families of those who did not are in desperate need.  The last year has seen medical expenses, lack of income and the horrors of that day relived.  The brands can show that they can be part of the solution – but only if they pay up.  When in two weeks’ time the world asks all of us what we have done in response to the Rana Plaza disaster a year ago, do they want to say they have failed the victims?

As the countdown to April 24th begins, actions are planned by trade unions and NGOs across Asia, Europe and North America, jointly with allies International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) and Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN).