Join the human chain for the victims of Rana Plaza
Today is the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed nearly 1200 people, injured many more and finally made the world sit up and take notice. Over the past year a lot has been done, and there is a lot more to do. But today, we’re calling on everyone to focus on the need to compensate the victims and their families. If you just do one thing today, join the TUC’s virtual human chain to show your support for Bangladesh’s mostly female textile industry workforce.
If you’re in London today, you can join a real, live human chain on Oxford Street organised by our friends at Labour Behind the Label. They’re drawing attention to the failure of stores like the Gap to join the Bangladesh Fire & Building Safety Accord, and companies like Benetton and Matalan who haven’t paid in to the ILO-co-ordinated compensation fund. We estimate it will cost £24m to provide full, lifetime compensation, but the fund is still £14.9m short. You can see who has donated to the fund here.
We’re urging the Government to put pressure on the companies to pay up for Rana Plaza, and you can add your voice through an online action organised by global unions and the Clean Clothes Campaign. Bangladesh trade union leader Nazma Akter recorded a message explaining why we need your help when she visited the TUC earlier this month.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“The appalling loss of life in the Rana Plaza disaster proved that Bangladesh had a long way to go to tackle the textile industry’s terrible record on health and safety and workers’ rights. It’s important that the Accord has now been signed by over 150 companies and trade unions in Bangladesh are finally being involved in making factories safer. But it is shameful that many of our companies sourcing from Rana Plaza have still not paid into the fund to help victims and their families. Every company using suppliers from Bangladesh should donate an appropriate sum to the fund so that, one year on from this horrific event, workers and their families can finally start to rebuild their lives.”
Compensation alone isn’t enough, of course, and nor is joining the Accord, although it’s a major step in the right direction. But in the long run, what Bangladesh’s textile workers need is the right to join a trade union free to bargain collectively for living wages, safety and respect at the workplace.