Activists protest fashion brands' failure to pay Bangladesh disaster victims compensation

published 24-05-2013 07:00, last modified 24-05-2013 06:59
Clean Clothes Campaign activists are set to stage protests across Europe on 24th May calling on major brands to pay compensation for fire and building collapse victims in Bangladesh. The protests take place exactly one month after the Rana Plaza factory collapse and exactly six months after the Tazreen fire killed 1239 in total.

Fake funerals, factory simulations and fashion shows will be part of the Europe wide protests at the failure to pay for pain and suffering, loss of earnings and medical care. Protests are held in front of stores of Benneton and Mango and other brands who have had production or placed trial orders in Rana Plaza.

Tessel Pauli of Clean Clothes Campaign says: ‘Workers’ debts are rising as brands fail to pay up. These two recent horrific tragedies in Bangladeshi garment factories left 1239 people dead and thousands injured. Compensation is owed to these workers and financial security is essential for families coming to terms with what has happened. Brands should pay up so families and workers don’t suffer any more’.

On November 24th 2012, lack of fire exits and poor fire safety meant 112 people were burned alive or jumped to their deaths when the Tazreen factory caught fire. Just five month later on April 24th 2013, 1127 more people were killed when the eight-story Rana Plaza building hosting five factories collapsed.

Amirul Haque Amin from the National Garment Workers' Federation says: 'We welcome the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, but brands still need to pay compensation to Tazreen and Rana Plaza workers and the families of the deceased. All buyers that have sourced from the factories share the responsibility of making sure that the full compensation is paid. It is unacceptable that companies like Walmart hide behind subcontractors or dates of orders placed. The buildings were unsafe long before the disasters happened.'

The frequency of factory disasters in Bangladesh has led to the establishment of a simple formula to calculate the compensation needed, based on ILO standards, and on an established formula developed following previous fire and safety accidents by Bangladeshi and international trade unions.

Based on this formula, the estimated long term compensation for Rana Paza victims will be more than 54 million Euros (71 million USD) for pain and suffering and long term loss of earnings. The compensation package for Tazreen victims has been calculated at 5.7 million US Dollars. In addition to brands, the government, the employers' association in Bangladesh (BGMEA) and employers are also expected to pay into the fund. 

CCC calls on brands linked to Rana Plaza factories and Tazreen to:

  • Commit to paying immediate relief and full and fair compensation to the injured workers and families of the dead, in line with established practices and calculations proposed by the unions
  • Engage with the Bangladeshi trade unions and organisations representing the victims as well as IndustriALL, the global trade union federation representing garment workers, to ensure all payments are done in a transparent and agreed upon process.

Only Primark have announced that they will pay long-term compensation to the victims of Rana Plaza, in line with the existing framework established by the Bangladeshi unions and used in the follow up on previous fires in Bangladesh. Other initiatives announced by brands risk undermining a transparent mechanism for fair and full compensation that involves trade union involvement.

Tessel Pauli from the Clean Clothes Campaign says: ‘Until all workers and families are fully compensated, no brand is off the hook’.

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