Searching for survivors after the Rana Plaza building disaster in Bangladesh. Photo: Qamrul Anam Coordinator, IndustriALL IBC
Six months on from Rana Plaza: pay up now!
It was six months ago last Thursday that the Rana Plaza textile factory collapsed in Bangladesh. The worst factory disaster in modern history – over a thousand dead – has tugged the heartstrings of millions around the world, but a large number of employers seem untouched by the tragedy.
Unions and campaigners have forced over a hundred corporates operating in Bangladesh to sign up to an enforceable fire and building safety Accord (although the pressure needs to be kept up on those who haven’t). But now attention has turned to the companies which actually used the Rana Plaza factory, and have still not agreed to pay compensation to the injured and the families of the dead.
As the families of the victims held a candlelight vigil outside the ruins, their unions demanded adequate compensation payments of $2,300 per death, and campaign organisations like Labour Behind the Label and War on Want are running e-petitions.
According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, the list of manufacturers who have not paid compensation includes Adler Modemärkt (Germany), Auchan (France), Camaieu (France), Carrefour (France), Cato Fashions (US), Children’s Place (US), LPP (Poland), Iconix (US), JC Penney (US), Kids for Fashion (Germany), Kik (Germany), Mango (Spain), Manifattura Corona (Italy), Matalan (UK), NKD (Germany), Premier Clothing (UK), Store 21 (UK), Texman (Denmark), Walmart (US), and YesZee (Italy), C&A (Germany/Belgium), Dress Barn (US), Gueldenpfennig (Germany) and Pellegrini (Italy). War on Want are focusing on the retailers involved, including Benetton, Bonmarché as well as Mango and Matalan.
IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina said:
“We are lighting candles to remember more than a thousand lights that went out on this day six months ago. Tomorrow, with renewed vigour, we will strive to put the processes in place to ensure the safety of millions of garment workers in Bangladesh.”
Of course, it’s not just compensation that we are calling for. As well as urging more companies to sign up to the Accord, we’re pressing for the Bangladesh Government to improve safety standards and to free trade unions, and supporting Bangladesh garment workers’ unions in calling for higher wages. Here, ethical trading consultant (and long-time Co-operator) Stirling Smith reflects on some of the broader issues raised by the six months since Rana Plaza.