LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Only five out of 27 global clothing brands linked to a Bangladesh factory that collapsed last year killing more than 1,100 people have committed to paying into a compensation fund for victims, according to a group campaigning for better working conditions in the textile industry.
The Clean Clothes Campaign said only Zara owner Inditex, Mango, Loblaw, Mascot and El Corte had committed to the fund, which is trying to raise $40 million before the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory fire in April.
Primark, Matalan, Walmart and Benetton are among brands that have not paid into the fund, the group said this week as it launched its “Pay Up!” campaign, urging more companies to commit to paying compensation.
"Compensation efforts to date have been completely haphazard, unequal, unpredictable and non-transparent, and have left large groups of victims with nothing,” Clean Clothes Campaign spokeswoman Ineke Zeldenrust said in a statement.
The fund was set up in collaboration with the Bangladesh ministry of labour and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to help ensure that survivors and victims’ families were compensated.
A spokesman for Primark told The Guardian newspaper that it had “paid short-term financial aid to all the employees at Rana Plaza, most of whom were making clothes for its competitors…and remains committed to paying long-term compensation to the workers by its suppliers.”
Nearly all the victims of the disaster on April 24, 2013 were garment workers who had been ordered back into the unsafe building on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka by factory bosses.
Rock-bottom wages and trade deals with Western countries have turned Bangladesh’s garments sector into a $22 billion industry that accounts for four-fifths of the country’s exports.