Rana Plaza, one year on: Brands still failing survivors & victim’s families.
A year to the day after the collapse of Rana Plaza brands who were sourcing from factories in the building have failed to provide the adequate funding to ensure all the survivors and the families of the 1,138 who were killed are able to receive payments to cover loss of income and medical expenses.
Despite a groundbreaking agreement between brands, the government of Bangladesh, employers, international and national unions and NGOs to develop an inclusive, transparent and ILO-recognised compensation programme for Rana Plaza victims, known as the Arrangement, the voluntary Donor Trust Fund set up to take the donations remains woefully underfunded.
A year after the collapse brands and retailers have contributed or committed just US$ 15 million to the Trust Fund, just one third of the US$40million needed.
“Brands are failing workers a second time,” says Ineke Zeldenrust from Clean Clothes Campaign, “first they failed to ensure the factories they bought from were safe, and now they are failing the survivors and the families of those who lost loved ones, by not contributing significantly to the Donor Trust Fund. Agreement on the total amount needed to provide compensation according to ILO standards was reached between all the parties involved in the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee, including the brands. But now, failing to adequately contribute, brands are making the workers suffer again.”
Marking the first anniversary of the collapse, organisations including the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, Clean Clothes Campaign, Human Rights Watch, IndustriALL Global Union, International Labor Rights Forum, Maquila Solidarity Network, and UNI Global Union will be holding vigils, rallies and events in over 20 cities worldwide; including demonstrations in front of stores in Toronto, New York, Antwerp and Istanbul, debates on the impact of the disaster on the fashion industry in Melbourne and The Hague; and in Bangladesh workers and union members will be holding memorial events and protests including a human chain at the site of the collapsed building in Dhaka.
Campaigners at all events will be demanding brands who continue to refuse to contribute to the Donor Trust Fund make immediate and significant payments. Brands that include Adler Modermarkte, Ascena Retail, Auchan, Benetton, Carrefour, Cato Fashions, Grabalok, Gueldenpfennig, Iconix (Lee Cooper), J C Penney, Kids for Fashion, Manifattura Corona, Matalan, NKD, PWT (Texman) and Yes Zee, all of whom had had production at a factory in Rana Plaza either at the time of the collapse or in the recent past.
“In addition it is imperative that brands such as Mango, KIK, Inditex and C&A that made first instalments increase their contributions. But we urge all the brands that have been working in Bangladesh to contribute to the fund with a considerable sum. They share a collective responsibility for this profoundly unsustainable production model and its hazards, this model that we are now about to change,” says Jyrki Raina, of IndustriALL Global Union.
"Fourteen major brands have contributed just US$7 million between them, brands that include the world's largest retailer Walmart," says Phillip Jennings of UNI Global Union. “It is inexcusable that Walmart has only contributed $1 million to the Fund. We’re calling on the company to make a donation which reflects their size and responsibility as a buyer in Rana Plaza."
Liana Foxvog of International Labor Rights Forum adds "Children’s Place, whose CEO earned US$17 million last year, has paid so little that it amounts to only $200 per family. Are they really saying lives are that cheap? They must pay more – the children who were orphaned, the workers who lost limbs, the families who lost their only income earner are counting on higher contributions for their basic survival.”
“In order to ensure the full US$40 million is reached, we also call upon the Bangladesh government and employers to increase their donations, and the European and US governments and the EU to take immediate measures to ensure brands from their countries pay what is necessary into the fund.” says Ms. Zeldenrust.
The Donor Trust Fund is open for voluntary donations, and is being overseen by the International Labour Organisation as an independent chair. The claims process began in Bangladesh on March 24th, and work is ongoing to ensure all those who lost a loved one or were themselves trapped in the collapsed building receive adequate compensation. However as Dr. Mojtaba Kazazi, the Executive Commissioner of the Arrangement explains “If funds [are] not available then...we haven’t made a service to these people ... it will not be a good situation.”
Clean Clothes Campaign and our partners call on all those involved in the garment industry in Bangladesh to pay up and show, on the first year anniversary of the worst industrial disaster to hit the garment industry, that they will not let the survivors and victims families suffer further.