Fashion chains Mango and Benetton today face heavy criticism for shunning discussions on compensation for Bangladeshi victims of the Rana Plaza disaster, despite both retailers admitting to have recent orders or production in factories located in the building.
The charity War on Want slammed Mango and Benetton for their failure to take part in the negotiations, after reports that neither have met the deadline to confirm their attendance at the talks, which the International Labour Organisation will host tomorrow in the Swiss city Geneva.
It warns that injured workers, and families whose breadwinners died at Rana Plaza, face destitution unless they get full compensation from retailers that sourced from the factories in the block.
Over 1,100 people were killed and thousands more injured in April this year amid the collapse of a building which housed factories that made clothes for Mango, Benetton, Primark, Bonmarché, and Matalan. The majority of the victims were female garment workers.
More than four months since one of the world’s worst industrial calamities, Benetton, Bonmarché, Mango and Matalan have all so far failed to offer the victims compensation.
Many bereaved families and jobless ex-Rana Plaza workers, some of them disabled - struggling to make ends meet on poverty wages before the tragedy - fear abject deprivation if the brands fail to provide adequate compensation.
War on Want says all the retailers that bought clothes made at Rana Plaza must address their responsibilities to ensure justice for the victims of a preventable disaster.
Though inspectors spotted cracks in the building, garment workers were forced to return.
Despite the eight-storey Rana Plaza being audited twice by western brands, the risks were never identified, and nothing was done to avoid the tragedy.
War on Want senior campaigner Murray Worthy said: ““Every brand that sourced clothes from Rana Plaza should have acted to ensure their workers’ safety – this wasn’t an accident, it was an entirely preventable tragedy.
“Now, they must not fail again to do the right thing – they all must pay full compensation to the victims.
“Mango and Benetton’s decision to shun these talks is appalling and unjustifiable, totally ignoring their responsibility for this horrifying disaster.
“Only full compensation can help bereaved families and injured survivors mend their broken lives.”
Amirul Haque Amin, president of War on Want’s Bangladeshi partner, the National Garment Workers’ Federation, said: “Bereaved families and workers injured in the disaster have suffered terrible devastation and now further anguish over fears of a future in dire poverty.
“Retailers who profited from the clothes made at Rana Plaza have a moral duty to ensure these families and workers receive full compensation to help them rebuild their lives.
“And the brands which have not yet signed the Bangladesh Safety Accord must do so at once, as clear evidence of a commitment to prevent such a tragedy ever happening again.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
- “Mango says orders placed in Bangladesh plant” http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130425/mango-says-orders-placed-bangladesh-plant
- “Benetton admits link with firm in collapsed Bangladesh building” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/apr/29/benetton-link-collapsed-building-bangladesh
- The Bangladesh safety accord is a comprehensive, legally binding, lifesaving agreement, signed by over 80 major brands and retailers: http://www.industriall-union.org/bangladesh-safety-accord-implementation-moving-forward
- In advance of the Rana Plaza negotiations, Geneva talks will take place on compensation for victims of a fire last November at the Bangladeshi garment factory Tazreen Fashion, which supplied Walmart and other western retailers. The blaze at the nine-storey factory killed 117 workers – including 12 who jumped from windows, desperate to escape the flames - and injured another 200 staff. War on Want is backing demands for Tazreen bereaved families and injured workers to receive full compensation.
- We are asking supporters to demand compensation here