First job for new Benetton CEO – Pay Up!

As Marco Airoldi takes the helm of Italian clothing brand Benetton, his first job must be to pay into the Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund.

Today in Treviso, home of the Benetton Group, Marco Airoldi will be confirmed the Benetton Group's new CEO - a role that will see him lead one of Italy's biggest companies and one of the world's major clothing brands through a time of change.

But before the group can look to the future they must act to remedy the past. After a year of mixed messages from Benetton regarding their commitment to ensuring compensation for all survivors and the victim’s families, Mr. Airoldi must set the record straight.

As Mr. Airoldi begins his tenure Clean Clothes Campaign lays out the facts regarding Benetton and Rana Plaza and demand he make his first job paying into the Donor Trust Fund.

The facts

What they say : In September 2013, Benetton stated that they were committed to “playing a role in finding an industry-wide, multi- stakeholder approach to [compensation] - much like the Accord did for fire and safety”

The facts:

  • Since December 2013, a multi-stakeholder approach has been in place – The Arrangement. It has the full participation of the Government of Bangladesh, employers organisations, Bangladeshi and international trade unions and NGOs and major clothing brands and has the ILO as a neutral chair.

  • Despite this still Benetton refuse to contribute.

What they say: In March 2014, in their position statement on Bangladesh, Benetton stated they withdrew from the Arrangement as it was becoming “a purely voluntary contribution system, one which was not at all proportionate to each company’s presence in Bangladesh”

The facts:

  • The decision to make the scheme voluntary was in a response to brands – including Benetton – failing to reach an agreement amongst themselves on what the criteria for donations should be.

  • Clean Clothes Campaign believes that all brands in Bangladesh should contribute according to their ability to pay, relationship with Bangladesh and relationship with Rana Plaza, on this basis we believe Benetton should contribute US$5 million.

What they say: Benetton have said they are “focus[ing their] efforts and resources in working directly with those affected by the Rana Plaza disaster.” This has been delivered by providing funding to BRAC schemes.

The facts:

  • In the words of ILO Deputy Director General, Gilbert Houngbo, “Compensation is an entitlement. Charity has a key role to play supporting rehabilitation and other services but it is voluntary by nature and not a substitute for entitlement."

  • BRAC provides much needed support to many in Bangladesh, however this should be additional to the right to compensation as laid out in international law. Benetton must also contribute to the Donor Trust Fund to ensure all survivors and victims receive the support they need.

Mr. Airoldi is joining Benetton at a crucial moment, 379 days after the collapse of Rana Plaza and the victims families and survivors are still waiting for the financial support they desperately need,” says Deborah Lucchetti, of Campagna Abiti Puliti, the Clean Clothes Campaign in Italy. “Mr Airoldi, has the opportunity to start his tenure on a positive step and demonstrate that Benetton will not put profit before the lives of those who make their clothes. It is time they pay up.”