Today marks the first anniversary of the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza building, which killed 1,138 workers and injured 2,000 others. Global unions IndustriALL and UNI and leading labor rights network Clean Clothes Campaign are demanding that all brands associated with Rana Plaza ensure the survivors and victims families receive much needed financial support.
The Donor Trust Fund, which provides a central coordinated approach to collecting claims and distributing the money, needs US$40 million in contributions to ensure that the families of the 1,138 victims and the 2,000 survivors receive compensation for loss of income and medical expenses.
To date, just half the companies who have been connected to a factory in the building have made commitments, and the fund has just one-third of the funds required to provide compensation and ongoing medical treatment for victims and their families.
“Currently 15 brands – including Benetton, Matalan, Adler Modemarkte and Auchan – have failed to even make an initial contribution to the Donor Trust Fund,” said Phillip Jennings of UNI Global Union. “We call on all of them to immediately make a significant donation to the Donor Trust Fund – the only inclusive, transparent and ILO-recognized compensation program for Rana Plaza victims.”
Not all of the brands that have made donations publicly have stated how much they have contributed, but most typically donated between US$500,000 and US$1 million.
“The 29 brands that sourced from factories within Rana Plaza either at the time of the collapse or in the recent past have combined profits of well in excess of US$22 billion a year, they are being asked to contribute less than 0.2 percent of these profits to go some way towards compensating the people their profits are built on,” said Ineke Zeldenrust of Clean Clothes Campaign.
“The Donor Trust Fund has been open for two months now and it is still a long way off the US$40 million that is required. The arrangement clearly has the necessary buy-in: the current donor list includes some of world's biggest brand names, from both Europe and the US, but they are coming in with frankly shockingly low levels given what they can afford,” Zeldenrust added.
Only Primark has donated a more significant amount, with US$1 million directly to the fund and payments made directly to workers from New Wave Bottoms, their contractor. In all, their donation is just under US$7 million.
The ILO-chaired arrangement under which the Donor Trust Fund is operated already has begun the process of registering claimants.
“The needs of the workers who survived this catastrophe and the families of those who did not are in desperate need,” said Jyrki Raina, of IndustriALL Global Union. “The last year has seen medical expenses, lack of income and the horrors of that day relived. The brands can show that they can be part of the solution – but only if they pay up. When … the world asks all of us what we have done in response to the Rana Plaza disaster a year ago, do they want to say they have failed the victims?”