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More funds sought for Bangladesh factory collapse victims

Source: Reuters - Thu, 10 Apr 2014 00:00 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Campaigners target $40 million for injured, families of dead

* Only one-third of that amount raised to date, they say

* Only half of 29 brands agree to pay into fund so far

* Low wages helped make Bangladesh No. 2 garment maker

BERLIN, April 10 (Reuters) - Campaigners launched a new effort on Thursday to push Western brands to pay into a compensation fund for victims of the collapse of a Bangladeshi factory almost a year ago that killed more than 1,100 people.

Global trade unions IndustriALL and UNI and labour rights network Clean Clothes Campaign said in a joint statement that a fund set up for the over 2,000 people injured and the families of the dead had raised only a third of its target of $40 million to date.

They said only half of the 29 brands that sourced goods from factories in the Rana Plaza complex have contributed to the fund run by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and want the rest to pay by the first anniversary of the April 24 disaster.

"The workers who survived this catastrophe and the families of those who did not are in desperate need. The last year has seen medical expenses, lack of income and the horrors of that day relived," said Jyrki Raina of IndustriALL.

Some of the brands supplied from the Rana Plaza complex say they will not contribute as their production was outsourced to the factory without their knowledge, or ended some time ago, while others prefer to pursue their own compensation plans.

Ineke Zeldenrust of Clean Clothes Campaign said the 29 brands have combined profits of more than $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," she said.

British clothes retailer Primark said last month it would pay an extra $10 million in long-term compensation - $9 million directly to the 580 workers of its supplier in Rana Plaza or their dependants, and another $1 million to the fund.

Other brands to contribute include Canada's Loblaw, Britain's Bon Marche and Premier Clothing, Mascot of Denmark and Spanish chains El Corte Ingles, Mango and Zara-owner Inditex .

Rock-bottom wages and trade deals have made Bangladesh's garments sector a $22 billion industry that accounts for four-fifths of its exports, with around 60 percent of garment exports going to Europe and 23 percent to the United States. (Editing by Pravin Char/Mark Heinrich)

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