Labour Behind the Label

Press Release: Rana Plaza compensation fund remains in crisis

Rana Plaza rescue

22

Oct 15

0

For Immediate Release
Labour Behind the Label

24 April, 2015

Statement

Compensation fund remains in crisis as global day of action commemorates second anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster

Today marks the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse, the most deadly disaster ever in the global garment industry. 1,134 people were killed and over 2500 injured as the 8-storey building housing 5 garment factories collapsed.

The fund to collect compensation, established by ILO in January 2014, is in crisis as the majority of brands continue to refuse to donate sufficient and meaningful amounts. Campaigners have consistently called for brands to pay based upon their profits, their relationship with Bangladesh and the extent of their relationship with Rana Plaza. Due to the voluntary nature of donating, many brands have made disappointing contributions. As a result, the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund continues to have a $4 million funding gap. The fund needs $30 million in total to ensure survivors and victims’ families receive the full and fair compensation they are entitled to.

There are reports of a last minute initiative, which has brought together brands in an effort to collectively seek a solution to the current funding crisis. The outcomes of this iniative are already being reported. Children’s Place announced today an additional contribution of $ 2 million to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund. The Children’s Place statement referenced that in an addition to their contribution, other major brands and retailers have also offered additional pledges towards the fund, totaling to $1 million. If these pledges prove to be confirmed donations, then the gap in the fund will have dropped to around $3 million.

Many survivors have had to use their entirety of their compensation payments to date on medical fees and are living in abject poverty, awaiting the final installments. To date, claimants have only received 70% of what they are owed.

“We welcome the news of this last minute initiative among brands. It offers the perfect opportunity to collectively solve this crisis”, says Sam Maher Policy Director with Labour Behind the Label. “Now there is no reason that these brands shouldn’t be able to imminently find a solution.”

Labour Behind the Label and the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), trade union allies and partners have been persistently calling for brands sourcing from Bangladesh to pay into the compensation fund. For families and individuals the wait for compensation has had devastating effects, many have faced destitution and are unable to pay ongoing medical costs.

Asha Khat, who survived the disaster, was the main earner for her mother, father, and younger sister, and now the family is desperately struggling to get by. Asha has received compensation for her injuries, but says it’s only been enough to cover her medical costs. Two years after the collapse, Asha says she still can’t eat properly, and she feels pain in her head and chest. She is too weak to stand for long periods, so she no longer leaves the house. The two year wait for compensation has fueled Asha with despair: “I feel like I’m living like a dead person. It would’ve been better if I died, because now I’m a burden to my family.”

To mark the anniversary a global day of action has been taking place today as campaigners and trade unions worldwide call for all brands sourcing from Bangladesh to fill the current funding gap in compensation immediately, and to sign the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. Campaigners also hope that the global day of action can continue to help drive forward the need for wider systemic changes in the industry.

Actions have been taking place worldwide, including an alternative walking tour of Oxford Street in London held yesterday on the eve of the disaster, organized by Labour Behind the Label and War on Want. The ‘Rana Plaza 2 years on – long road to justice’ tour, supported by Fashion Revolution Day, TRAID, Traidcraft, Rainbow Collective, Unite the Union – London and Eastern, Brick Lane Debates, Potent Whisper and Tansy Hoskins, highlighted the role played by UK high street brands such as H&M, Gap and Benetton in denying and delaying justice to Bangladeshi garment workers. Wearing white armbands, a Bangladeshi sign of grieving, in remembrance of the 1,134 people who died in Rana Plaza, campaigners and tour attendees stood in solidarity with garment workers in Bangladesh and worldwide.

Other global actions include a mass demonstration held by trade unions and garment workers federations in Dhaka, a public art installation forming a concert of sewing machines in Genova, Italy, demonstrations outside stores including Mango, JC Penney, Zara, and Walmart in the US, and a flashmob outside stores in Berlin.

Sam Maher for Labour Behind the Label said: “It is unconscionable that now, two years on from the disaster, victims’ families and survivors have yet to receive justice through the form of compensation. These people, like Asha, who went through one of the worst experiences imaginable, are continuing to suffer. This ongoing and unnecessary wait for compensation has forced many to live in abject poverty. Why are these brands, the very brands the Rana Plaza victims were making clothes for, prolonging their suffering? These brands need to realize that the world will not forget Rana Plaza, its victims, and its survivors. The public demonstrations and range of events held on this global day of action are powerful proof of this.”

ENDS
Contact
Ilona Kelly
Director of Campaigns, Labour Behind the Label
ilona@labourbehindthelabel.org
Tel: 07794271804

Ilana Winterstein
Director of Outreach and Communications, Labour Behind the Label
ilana@labourbehindthelabel.org
Tel: 07813097008

Notes

1. For further information on the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund see:
http://www.ranaplaza-arrangement.org/fund/donors

2. The Rana Plaza Coordination Committee (RPCC), set up in October 2013, was tasked with developing and overseeing the compensation process, known as the Arrangement. The RPCC includes representatives from the Bangladesh government, Bangladesh industry, global brands and retailers, Bangladeshi and international trade unions and Bangladeshi and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), with the ILO acting as the neutral chair. In the development of the Arrangement the brand representatives refused to set specific payment amounts for each company. For more information about the Arrangement and a full list of donors to the Fund see: www.ranaplaza-arrangement.org/

3. For more information about the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund and detailed information about company contributions, please see: www.cleanclothes.org/ranaplaza/compensating-the-victims-of-rana-plaza-resolving-the-funding-crisis

4. Link to a short film of the Oxford Street alternative walking tour action held on 23rd April 2015:
www.facebook.com/waronwant/videos/10153151855556075/

5. A brief summary of actions held today in Bangladesh:

At 10 AM on 24 April, 14 IndustriALL affiliated union federations will participate in a human chain at the National Press Club in Dhaka.
At 11 AM in Dhaka, a mass demonstration organised by NGWF will take place, with the participation of the Secretary General of the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council and leaders of 15 garment workers federations. Protestors are calling for the immediate payment of compensation to & rehabilitation of the Rana Plaza victims and the establishment of safe workplace in garment industry in Bangladesh.
In Ashulia and Savar on 24 April, Workers Safety Forum and BILS are organising a mass rally and procession near the Tazreen and Rana Plaza sites demanding safe workplaces and fair compensation for the Rana Plaza victims
BLAST is organising rallies and action on social media calling for full compensation payments and for changes to the national labour law.
Labour Behind the Label is the UK platform of the Clean Clothes Campaign. The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) works to improve conditions and support the empowerment of workers in the global garment industry. The CCC has national campaigns in 15 European countries with a network of 250 organisations worldwide.

Please see http://tracking.etapestry.com/t/29796035/1183091806/65863076/0/90567/ and http://tracking.etapestry.com/t/29796035/1183091806/65863077/0/90567/ for further information.