Still failing to pay up
“I felt a shock and the floor gave way. People started running in chaos and the ceiling came down. I kept protecting my head, but I got stuck between the rubble. My hand got stuck and I thought I would die. People around died.” - Shila Begum, a survivor of the Rana Plaza accident
On the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy, 24 April 2014, actions across the world urged fashion brands to finally contribute to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund (RPTF). The Fund initially calculated that US$ 40 million was needed in order to pay out full and fair compensation to all claimants (dependents of the deceased or missing workers, as well as injured workers).
At the time of writing (December 2014) this amount has been revised down to $ 30 million. So far the Fund has received US$ 21 million in donations, including pledges. Although many brands have contributed, most have failed to pay adequate amounts to cover the compensation owed. Other brands, including Benetton and Carrefour, have not made any contribution at all.
The first round of payments, constituting 40% of each claim, has now been distributed to every eligible beneficiary. The amount of the second round of payments, which will constitute a further 30% of each individual claim, is currently being calculated.
Work to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future has also continued. Over 180 companies are now part of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, with 1,600 factories now on the list for inspection and repair where needed. At the end of October 2014 the Accord announced that all initial inspections had been completed. Over 80,000 violations had been found at the 1,106 factories. Corrective Action Plans have been agreed for 400 factories so far.
The collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka on 24 April 2013 cost the lives of 1,138 people and injured nearly 2,600 more, making it the deadliest garment-factory disaster ever. Since that terrible day, labour rights organisations have put continued pressured on international brands, employers’ organisations and governments to compensate the victims through the Rana Plaza Arrangement and to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord.
The first signs of imminent danger appeared the day before, when cracks appeared in the walls of the building. The next morning, workers refused to enter the building due to fears of collapse, whilst those who worked in the banks and shops on the ground floor remained outside. The managers of the garment factories gave the workers a 'choice': work or go home and never come back. Around 9:00 AM the building collapsed.
The collapse was followed by a three-week intensive rescue effort, resulting in around 2,000 people being rescued from the building alive. Many were trapped under the tons of rubble, machinery and distorted steel of the collapsed building for hours or even days. Some could only be rescued by amputating their limbs. The workers produced clothes for well-known North American and European brands such as Benetton, Mango, The Children's Place, KiK, Primark, Walmart and Inditex, the parent company of Zara.
In September 2013 the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee was established, consisting of the government, local and international trade unions, non-governmental organisations and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as neutral chair. The committee worked to set up a process to support the victims and their families, resulting in the Rana Plaza Arrangement.
The Arrangement set up the Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund to collect the necessary money to deliver financial support for loss of income and medical expenses to the Rana Plaza families and survivors by donations from global brands.
Read more about the Rana Plaza collapes in the Spotlight page with interviews with workers and activists and video's and an interactive timeline marking key events after the collapse and it's global consequences pushed along by workers, survivors and activists.
Rana Plaza, one year on: Brands still failing survivors and victims’ families
Take action: Make sure Benetton pays what they owe
Rana Plaza survivor begins European tour
The Guardian: The shirt on your back