Press Release: Rana Plaza compensation fund remains in crisis

Press Release: Rana Plaza compensation fund remains in crisis

For Immediate Release
Labour Behind the Label

24 April, 2015


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.”

Ilona Kelly
Director of Campaigns, Labour Behind the Label
Tel: 07794271804

Ilana Winterstein
Director of Outreach and Communications, Labour Behind the Label
Tel: 07813097008


1. For further information on the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund see:

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:

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.

Press Release: Victims of Rana Plaza factory collapse to finally receive full compensation for loss of income and medical care

Press Release: Victims of Rana Plaza factory collapse to finally receive full compensation for loss of income and medical care

For Immediate Release, 08 June 2015
Victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse to finally receive full compensation for loss of income and medical care


Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund reaches its $30 million target

Labour Behind the Label is delighted to announce a major campaign victory with the confirmation that the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund has finally met its target of $30 million, following a large anonymous donation.

Labour Behind the Label, working with partners throughout the Clean Clothes Campaign, has been campaigning since immediately after the disaster in April 2013 to demand that brands and retailers provided compensation to its victims. Since then over one million consumers from across Europe and around the world have joined actions against many of the major high street companies whose products were being made in one of the five factories housed in the structurally compromised building. These actions forced many brands to finally pay donations and by the second anniversary the Fund was just $2.4 million dollars short of its $30 million target. A large donation received by the Fund in the last few days has now led to the Fund meeting its target.

“Finally, now that the Fund has received the required amount, all the families impacted by this disaster can begin to focus on rebuilding their lives. This is a momentous day,” said Sam Maher of Labour Behind the Label. “This campaign received so much support from across Europe and the world, with so many remaining thoroughly dedicated to this cause. This global support and action ensured that the victims of Rana Plaza were not forgotten.”

The Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund was set up by the ILO in January 2014 to collect funds to pay awards designed to cover loss of income and medical costs suffered by the Rana Plaza victims and their families when the Rana Plaza building collapsed in the garment industry’s worst ever disaster.

In November 2014, the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee announced that is would need around $30 million to pay in full over 5,000 awards granted through the scheme. However, the failure of brands and retailers linked to Rana Plaza to provide sufficient and timely donations into the Fund has, until today, prevented the payment of the awards from being completed.

Labour Behind the Label and the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) will continue to support the Rana Plaza victims who are pursuing further payments in recognition of the pain and suffering inflicted upon them as a result of corporate and institutional negligence. These payments fall outside the scope of the Arrangement.

Labour Behind the Label joins with its partners in the CCC calling for policy changes to ensure that those affected by future disasters will receive more timely support. They welcome a new initiative by the ILO in Bangladesh to develop a national workplace injury scheme for the country’s 4 million garment workers. They also urge European politicians to develop better regulation of supply chains to ensure that brands and retailers are held properly accountable in the future.

“While this is a remarkable victory, the fact that it took over 2 years remains a travesty of justice and is an idictment of the the voluntary nature of social responsibility,” said Maher. “The brands connected to Rana Plaza earn a collective annual profit of over $20 billion. There is no excuse as to why it was so difficult to raise a mere $30 million in order to provide those with what they are owed for loss of income and medical costs. Let this be a lesson that we must develop new ways to ensure that access to remedy is provided by brands and retailers as a matter of course, rather than as an exception.”




Sam Maher
Policy Director, Labour Behind the Label
Tel: +44 7517 516943

Ilana Winterstein
Director of Outreach and Communications, Labour Behind the Label

Press Release: Global coalition launches Change Your Shoes, a campaign to transform the shoe industry

Press Release: Global coalition launches Change Your Shoes, a campaign to transform the shoe industry

For Immediate Release: 30 July 2015.
Global coalition launches ‘Change Your Shoes’, a campaign to transform the shoe industry

Global citizens called to join virtual march to Brussels

Today 18 human rights, workers’ rights and environmental organisations across Europe, India, Indonesia and China launch ‘Change Your Shoes’, a new global campaign aimed at addressing the systemic human rights abuses plaguing the shoe industry, including unsafe working conditions and poverty pay, as well as the need for regulation and transparency.

Recent major disasters in the global garment industry, including the collapse of the Rana Plaza building, have highlighted the appalling working conditions of garment workers, however there is a lack of awareness that similar issues pervade other commodity industries, such as shoe production. Poverty wages are endemic, with approximately only 2% of the price of a pair of shoes paid to the workers who made them.  Furthermore, most leather tanning poses significant risks to both workers’ health and the environment as a result of the use of Chrome III-salts.

The scale of the shoe industry is immense, with over 22 billion pairs of shoes produced in 2013 alone, equating to 3 pairs of shoes per person, 87% of which are made in Asia. Earlier this year the Change Your Shoes campaign commissioned a European Nielsen survey and discovered that 50% of Europeans have little or no information on shoe production. The survey also found that 63% of Europeans believe that the EU should impose regulations on goods entering the European market to ensure workers’ rights are protected.
“It is startling how little consumers know about shoe production.  The Change Your Shoes campaign will address this through awareness raising, lobbying of brands and calling for legislature to address key issues allowing labour rights abuses to continue, such as a total lack of transparency. The EU, as a leading democratic institution, needs to step up and create clear regulations to safeguard workers’ rights”, says Ilona Kelly, of UK’s Labour Behind the Label.
The campaign also launches a new app today asking people worldwide to join a virtual march to Brussels, calling on the EU to adopt clear regulations that ensure transparency in the shoe supply chain.  The app can be found here: http://changeyourshoes.cantat.com/



Ilana Winterstein, ilana@labourbehindthelabel.org

For more information:  www.labourbehindthelabel.org
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Press Release: Mulberry slammed for worker exploitation in Turkish factory. 15.09.15

Press Release: Mulberry slammed for worker exploitation in Turkish factory. 15.09.15

For immediate release: 15 September 2015

Handbag brand Mulberry slammed for worker exploitation at Turkish factory

Turkish workers and activists globally are launching a series of protests against handbag brand Mulberry for failing to protect the rights of workers in its Izmir supplier factory. More than 15 store actions are planned to take place across Europe and the US this Wednesday and Thursday, including in Bristol and a petition hand in at their Somerset HQ.

The brand, worn by celebrities including Alexa Chung and Emma Watson, is being criticised for refusing to step in to protect workers from union busting tactics at the factory SF Leather in Turkey, after management fired workers who had joined the union and only offered to rehire them if they gave up union membership.

Mulberry has a set of ‘global sourcing principles’ [1] which includes commitments to international human rights such as freedom of association, but protesters say this is being violated by their failure to act.

“Workers at SF Leather make 8000 Mulberry handbags a month for a pittance, but when they join the union to ask for higher wages they are fired, and Mulberry does nothing. What sort of message does this send to their rich customers? To us it says that Mulberry is no good,” said Abdulhalim Demir from Clean Clothes Campaign Turkey.

A worker from the factory, and member of the Deriteks union, Mehmet Cin said: “As a worker in the Mulberry factory SF Leather, I work hard every day to make profits for Mulberry, and Mulberry has repaid us by crushing our union! Until now Mulberry has ignored our rights and refused to take responsibility its workers, but we will not be silent, we should not be punished for standing up for our basic rights!”

Linda Gomaa from the Union League said, “It is unacceptable that brands like Mulberry attempt to dodge their responsibility to the very workers from whose labour they extract huge profits each and every day. Union League members around the world are supporting the SF Leather workers and their demands on Mulberry because we recognize that the brands are the principal employers in the apparel industry and we demand they be directly accountable to us as workers.”

The workers have made a video explaining their plight [2]. One worker simply said:

“We want SF leather and Mulberry to hear us. We want them to reinstate the 14 sacked workers and respect our union rights.”

Protesters will gather at Mulberry stores and franchises in cities across Europe and the US on Wednesday and Thursday this week, including Istanbul, Bristol, Oslo, Copenhagen, New York and Dallas.

Mulberry [3] have so far responded to requests to intervene by stating that they are investigating, and recently that they are waiting for the outcome of some legal processes in Turkey to conclude.

SF Leather employs 190 workers and 90% of the factory’s production is for British handbag and purse brand Mulberry. A petition online [4] in support of the workers’ plight has so far built 10151 signatures.


Notes to editors:

[1] http://www.mulberry.com/investor-relations/pdf/mulberry_global_sourcing_principles.pdf

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkDrnPevNBo

[3] Please contact Dorothy Lovell, CSR Coordinator for Mulberry to get a fuller story. dorothyl@mulberry.com; +44 (0) 1761 234 555

[4] http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=2798

Available for interview:

– Abdulhalim Demir, Campaigns Coordinator, Clean Clothes Campaign Turkey: (+90) 5333450412 info@temizgiysi.org

– Engin Celik, National Organiser for union Deriteks: (+90) 2165729050 engincelik@deriteks.org.tr

Clean Clothes Campaign: http://www.cleanclothes.org/

The Union League: http://www.union-league.org/

UK Contact:
Ilana Winterstein

Director of Outreach and Communications, Labour Behind the Label

Press release: Matalan slammed for ‘trivial’ compensation payments to Rana Plaza victims

For immediate release

Labour Behind the Label

6th August 2014.


Cheap clothes giant Matalan asked to pay UN backed scheme £3m donates only £60,000, representing just £50 to each family of a worker killed. 


Labour rights campaigners and 38 degrees members are condemning Matalan for making what they claim is derisory payment to the families of those killed and injured at the Rana Plaza building collapse in April last year


Last week Matalan finally agreed to pay into the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, over six months after it was set up by the International Labour Organisation to fund compensation payments to the dependents of the 1338 workers killed and 2000 workers injured in the disaster. Yesterday it became clear that the Skelmersdale based company, which makes a profit of over £100 million a year, had paid no more than £60,000 to the Fund, just 2% of the £3million demanded by campaigners, and representing a payment of just £50 to each killed worker.


Until last week Matalan was the only major British retailer linked to the Rana Plaza factory that had not contributed to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, despite sustained calls for it to pay up, including a direct request from the UK government. The company relented last Thursday following a major consumer campaign driven by 38 degrees members that saw the company receive over 1000 social media messages per hour and which forced them to temporarily suspend their customer helpline. Protests by 38 degrees members continued over the weekend, calling on Matalan to publicly disclose the amount paid, a demand refused by the company.


Susannah Compton of 38 degrees says “38 Degrees members came together in their tens of thousands last week to get Matalan to take responsibility – in 216 stores, at their HQ, on Twitter and Facebook and via their customer service line. Matalan have responded by contributing, it seems, around £60,000 to the Fund. Matalan customers have been left wondering why Matalan still refuses to do the right thing for workers who died and were seriously injured by the Rana Plaza collapse.”


Yesterday the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee updated the totals received into their Fund, revealing that between the 4th July and 4th August – the period in which the Matalan donation was made – only $128,000 had been received in donations. Campaigners estimate that, with three other donations also declared that month, Matalan’s donation was no more than $100,000 or £60,000. The Fund remains over $2 millon short of reaching the $20 million needed to pay first payments to all claimants.


“Matalan has made nothing more than a token contribution to the Fund, in order to deflect what is clearly a widespread concern amongst its consumers, while at the same time trying hide the fact that their payment was derisory. However, the public uproar last week made clear that the UK public remains deeply concerned about Rana Plaza and that the victims and the survivors’ families receive the fair compensation they deserve”, says Sam Maher of Labour Behind the Label.


Labour Behind the Label joined forces with online campaigners 38 degrees to launch last week’s consumer campaign in an effort to ensure that the first round payments for the claims processed since April can be fulfilled. The money is expected to be transferred to claimants in early August but less than half of the total $40 million USD needed has been secured.


“Now that the amount paid has become clear, we can all see what value Matalan puts on the lives of those garment workers employed to make its clothes. This payment is an insult to those families that lost everything when that building came down and we would urge them to make further payments immediately”, says Sam Maher.


Company contributions to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund have been calculated by campaigners according to the brands ability to pay, the size of their relationship with Bangladesh and their relationship with Rana Plaza. Matalan makes an annual profit of around £100m and its founder and owner, John Hargreaves, has a personal fortune of over £1 billion. On this basis Matalan was asked to contribute $5 million (£3 million). Primark is the largest contributer to the Fund so far, donating $8 million USD.


Contact: Labour Behind the Label, 0117 9415844



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.


You can read Matalan’s official response to the 38 degrees campaign and Labour Behind the Label’s expert rebuttal here: http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2014/07/31/matalans-statement-and-expert-rebuttal/