Compensation not charity for fire and collapse victims

Exactly eight months after a fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory and three months after the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, the Clean Clothes Campaign calls on companies involved in the disasters to attend meetings aimed at providing compensation to survivors and the families of those killed. The meetings, organised by IndustriALL Global Union, IndustriALL Bangladesh Council and global allies, are due to take place on the 11th and 12th of August in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Compensation not charity for fire and collapse victims

The meetings aim to bring together the companies who placed orders at the two factories where a lack of decent health and safety standards left 1243 dead and thousands more injured. Brands that have been invited to attend include Benetton, Mango, Walmart, Primark, The Walt Disney Company and international agent Li & Fung, all of whom had orders placed at factories located in the Rana Plaza building or at Tazreen Fashions.

The meetings will focus on a collaborative process for establishing compensation figures and distributing payments to those whose family life, economic well-being and health have been severely harmed as a result of both these tragedies. The process will be based on an existing framework established following previous tragedies in the Bangladeshi garment industry.

Discussions based on this compensation framework have already begun in relation to the Tazreen victims and survivors. Some of the Tazreen buyers had committed to making compensation payments, but the process was stalled in April as the parties dealt with the fallout from Rana Plaza and establishing the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. It is hoped these negotiations will now continue.

The meeting on Rana Plaza will mark the first meeting on compensation in this case. Only Primark has publicly stated it will pay long-term compensation to the victims of Rana Plaza in line with the existing compensation framework. Other international brands have failed to announce similar concrete steps, choosing instead to announce charitable programmes.

Reports from the ground indicate that many workers and families are facing desperate situations as they are unable to pay medical bills, rent, or afford food and daily expenses.

A woman who lost her husband in the collapse in April, told Clean Clothes Campaign that his body is still missing. Her husband worked on the fifth floor at Phantom Tec factory as a sewing operator and earned 4800Taka (47 Euro) per month. She is the sole carer of a seven month old baby and her elderly father, who is in poor health. She has been offered a sewing machine and been give 1000tTaka (10 Euros) by the BGMEA, the Bangladesh exporters’ association, but has not received her husband’s salary or any further compensation.

“We hope that all brands associated with these disasters will make attendance at this meeting a priority”, says Liz Parker from the Clean Clothes Campaign. “Charity projects such as training or psychological support are totally insufficient. These families need full and fair compensation so they can start to rebuild their lives in a manner of their own choosing. They have paid a heavy price for the failure of brands and retailers, the industry and the government to guarantee a safe workplace. They will never get their loved ones back, but decent compensation will help relieve some of their suffering.”

The estimated long-term compensation for Rana Plaza will be more than 54 million Euros (71 million USD). ForTazreen this is 4.3 million Euros (5.7 million USD). These figures include compensation for pain and suffering, as well as long-term loss of earnings for families of deceased workers, and injured workers not able to return to work. It does not include medical costs for the physically injured workers, psychological support for all workers or their families involved in the collapse or payment of wages and legal severance payments to the Tazreen and Rana Plaza workers who lost their jobs.

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