Victory for Rana Plaza workers as compensation fund is finally filled

 

After two years of campaigning across the world, an large anonymous donation of €2.4 million secures full and fair compensation for victims of Rana Plaza
After two years of campaigning across the world, an large anonymous donation of €2.4 million secures full and fair compensation for victims of Rana Plaza

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) is delighted to announce a major campaign victory with the confirmation that the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund has finally met its target of $30 million, following a large anonymous donation.

 

The CCC has been campaigning since the disaster in April 2013 to demand that brands and retailers provided compensation to its victims.

Since then over one million consumers from across Europe and around the world have joined actions against many of the major high street companies whose products were being made in one of the five factories housed in the structurally compromised building. These actions forced many brands to finally pay donations and by the second anniversary the Fund was still $2.4 million dollars short of its $30million target. A large donation received by the Fund in the last few days has now led to the Fund meeting its target.

“This day has been long in coming. Now that all the families impacted by this disaster will finally receive all the money that they are owed, they can finally focus on rebuilding their lives. This is a remarkable moment for justice,” said Kate Nolan of the Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland. “This would not have been possible without the support of citizens and consumers in Ireland and across Europe who stuck with the campaign over the past two years. Together we have proved once again that European consumers do care about the workers who make their clothes – and that their actions really can make a difference.”

 

The Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund was set up by the ILO in January 2014 to collect funds to pay awards designed to cover loss of income and medical costs suffered by the Rana Plaza victims and their families when the Rana Plaza building collapsed in the garment industry’s worst ever disaster.

In November 2014 the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee announced that this would need around $30million to pay in full over 5,000 awards granted through the scheme. However, the failure of brands and retailers linked to Rana Plaza to provide sufficient and timely donations into the Fund has, until today, prevented the payment of the awards from being completed.

The CCC continues to call for policy changes to ensure that those affected by future disasters will receive more timely support. They welcome a new initiative by the ILO in Bangladesh to develop a national workplace injury scheme for the country’s 4 million garment workers. They also urge European politicians to develop better regulation of supply chains to ensure that brands and retailers are held properly accountable in the future.

This is a huge victory – but its been too long in the making” says Ineke Zeldenrust from the CCC International Secretariat: “That brands with a collective annual profit of over $20 billion took two years and significant public pressure to come up with a mere $30 million is an indictment of the voluntary nature of social responsibility. We now need to look at ways to ensure that access to such remedy is provided by brands and retailers as a matter of course, and not only when public outrage makes doing nothing impossible.”

Global pressure urges retailers to ‘close the gap’ in funding in time for second anniversary of Rana Plaza disaster.

24th April 2015 marks the two-year anniversary of the worst industrial accident to ever hit the garment industry, when the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh came crashing down killing 1134 garment workers.

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and its trade union allies and partners are marking the second anniversary of disaster, with a global call to action, demanding that the Rana Plaza survivors and victims’ families immediately receive the full compensation they are entitled to; and that all apparel brands and retailers.

Despite the growing urgency, brands continue to postpone payments to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, or make payments that are clearly insufficient to close the $4.5 million gap in funds necessary to ensure the survivors of Rana Plaza receive full and fair compensation.

The ILO set up the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund in January 2014 to collect compensation for the victims of the disaster. The Rana Plaza Coordination Committee (RPCC), set up in October 2013, was tasked with developing and overseeing the compensation process, known as the Arrangement. The RPCC includes representatives from the Bangladesh government, Bangladesh industry, global brands and retailers, Bangladeshi and international trade unions and Bangladeshi and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), with the ILO acting as the neutral chair. In the development of the Arrangement the brand representatives refused to set specific payment amounts for each company.

Since the opening of the Fund in January 2014 campaigners have argued that donations should reflect a company’s ability to pay, the size of their relationship with Bangladesh and the extent of their relationship with Rana Plaza however nearly every brand linked to the Rana Plaza building has made insufficient donations, thus failing to live up to their responsibilities to the victims. Some brands, such as Mango, Matalan, and Inditex have refused to disclose their donation. Others, such as Walmart and The Children’s Place, while publicly disclosing their donation, still only contributed a minimal amount.

“We need to start asking questions as to why out of all the companies with direct links to Rana Plaza only two – Primark and Loblaw – have stepped up in a financially meaningful way, showing that they take their responsibilities seriously, and that they do respect the lives of workers. If all the other companies involved had followed suit, we would not be entering into this funding crisis that we are today, just one day until the anniversary of the disaster and still facing over a 4 million shortfall,” says Kate Nolan of the Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland.

On April 24, 2013, shortly after 8AM, the Rana Plaza building collapsed, when eight storeys of concrete came crashing down, killing 1,134 people. Many were killed instantly. Many others were buried alive, forcing some to amputate their own limbs in order to escape and survive. It is estimated that there were 3890 people in the Rana Plaza building at the time of collapse.

‘If we have learnt anything from this disaster it is that  it is vital that any retailer doing business in Bangladesh should be signed up to the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, not just those that were producing in Rana Plaza. That means Dunnes Stores and O’Neills and any company sourcingthier garments  from vulnerable workers in the Bangladesh garment sector. ‘ continues Kate

Fashion Revolution Day
Global actions began in Genova, Italy, on , 18 April and have continued across across the world in the week leading up to 24 April 2015 when social media activism is set to make a global noise under the hashtag #fashrev #whomademyclothes. Fashion Revelotuion Day is set to take over the social media platforms for the day as millions of  consumers ask a simple question to their favourite brands and retialers – who made my clothes? Intended as a mark of respect for garment workers around the world and instigated by London based designer Carry Sommers as a reaction to the Rana Plaza disaster, Fashion Revolution Day is marked in over 66 countries around the world.

 

Rana Plaza workers ask public to support their calls for Benetton to finally pay compensation to victims nearly 2 years after the devestating collapse

Benetton CEO, Marco Airoldi : Pay compensation to the survivors of the Rana Plaza disaster

My name is Mahinoor and I am 18 years old. I used to work on the fourth floor of Rana Plaza at Phantom Apparels Ltd in Bangladesh. April 24, 2013 – the day Rana Plaza came crashing down – is a day I will always remember. It’s a day I often wish to forget. It was the worst day of my life. 

Benetton bought clothes from a factory in the Rana Plaza building. It is now the last major international brand with direct links to Rana Plaza, which has refused to give us even a penny in compensation. Benetton’s behaviour is shocking, shameful, and unacceptable. Please help us hold Benetton accountable and sign this petition.

On the day Rana Plaza collapsed I was working on the fourth floor of the building. A machine fell on me. I was stuck, and couldn’t get out. The only reason I was able get out from under the machine is because a colleague never gave up and continuously kept trying to free me. 

When I was trapped in the rubble with my colleagues, we kept looking for a way to escape. But, we couldn’t find a way out. This was horrifying. We thought we would die in there, buried under the rubble. After a long time we realized that some people from the outside were trying to break the wall and suddenly we found hope. I found hope. 

We need this compensation to replace our lost earnings and so we can begin to rebuild our lives. I have a father who is very ill and have to look after my parents. I have to earn money, but I’m too haunted by my memories to work in a garment factory again. 

I suffered permanent injuries as a result of the disaster, including the loss of a toe. I still have health problems including a poor memory, which makes it difficult to find more work. More importantly, many of my coworkers and friends suffered terrible deaths. I am still carrying the shock of Rana Plaza and sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to fully recover and move on. 

This is why I am demanding full and fair compensation for all of us who were affected by the Rana Plaza tragedy. We believe that all the buyers of Rana Plaza must pay our compensation since we worked hard making them clothes and then were either injured or killed in the process.

I know that Benetton said they donated to a charity, but this is not the same as receiving money that we are rightfully owed. When I was in the hospital I received some money to set up a shop – I don’t know who paid this money or why they gave it to me and I didn’t get to choose what to use that money for. Charity is not the same as compensation. We do not want charity. We want to be paid full and fair compensation, which is our right. 

The bottom-line is that after everything we have gone through, we should not be forced to beg or rely on charity for our living. We are entitled to full and fair compensation from Benetton. We’ve seen how international action has held other brands to account. With your help, Benetton will not be able to simply ignore their responsibility. 

Please join us in this fight for justice. 
http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Benetton_CEO_Marco_Airoldi_Pay_compensation_to_the_survivors_of_the_Rana_Plaza_disaster/?tPhBSib

Violent retaliation as hunger striking workers refuse to back down.

female workers flee from police raid
Police force Tuba garment workers from the factory premises in a crack-down on the striking workers
Clean Clothes Campaign demands the immediate release of union leader Moshrefa Mishu and all others and calls for an end to the violence against the worker’s strike in Bangladesh. The protesting women announced a nation-wide strike of all garment producing factories this week if they do not receive three months salaries and allowances owed to them by garment producer Tuba Group.

President of the Garment Workers Unity Forum Moshrefa Mishu was arrested today when police stormed into a factory of Tuba Group in Dhaka, firing rubber bullets and teargas canisters to disperse workers who were observing indefinite hunger strike demanding their three months’ salary and bonuses in full.

Police also arrested Jolly Talukder, joint seceretary of the Bangladesh Trade Union Center and Monjur Moin, labour leader from the Communist party.

amran Hossain female garment workers face violent repurcussions
Female Tuba worker faces further violent repercussions on the streets after Police force striking workers from the factory. Photo: Amran Hossain

Hundreds of workers from five Tuba Group factories have been protesting since the day before Eid. More than 100 workers collapsed and 17 have been hospitalized since the hunger strike began on Monday 28th July.

Furthermore the workers demand that the factories should be kept open so that the women can retain their livelihood, compensation for workers who have fallen ill and compensation for the victims of Tazreen Fashions fire.

Delwar Hossain, managing director of Tuba Group, has been detained in jail since February 9 for his role in Tazreen fire in November 2012 that took 112 lives. however,  in what was seen as a cynical use of the ongoing strike he was released on bail last Tuesday to allow payments be made.

We call on the BGMEA, the Tuba Group and the buyers of the factories to call for an end to the violence and ensure swift payments to the workers, because nobody should be forced to risk their lives for a living wage.

3 years and counting, Thai activist Somyot remains in jail following charges of lese majesty

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Thai labour rights activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk was arrested on 30 April 2011 following publication of two articles in his magazine which the authorities claim offended the country’s ruling monarch.

Somyot has been accused of lèse majesté, the crime of insulting the king that carries up to 30 years of imprisonment. Lèse majesté has been widely used to silence labour and pro-democracy groups in Thailand.

After 21 months in arbitrary detention and being refused bail on ten separate applications, on 23 January 2013, Somyot was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.
He was convicted by the Bangkok Criminal Court under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (the lèse majesté law), the crime of insulting the monarchy.

The Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland is calling upon the Thai authorities to honour its numerous commitments to respect
human rights and fundamental freedoms and to drop all charges against Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and all other human rights defenders detained under lèse majesté.

We also ask, more generally that all human rights defenders in Thailand are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of restrictions, including judicial harassment.

 

Rana Plaza One Year On: Brands drag their feet as compensation fund remains cripplingly low.

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It is almost one year since Rana Plaza collapsed and 1,138 people lost their lives and over 2,000 more were injured.  Nothing can replace the loved ones lost, or erase the trauma both physical and mental suffered by the survivors, but they should not have to have the extra burden of not having their financial losses at least covered.

The Rana Plaza Arrangement is an unprecedented coordinated approach which will ensure all those who have suffered due to the collapse will receive payments to cover loss of income and medical costs.

US$40 million is needed in the Arrangement Trust fund by April 24th to ensure payments can be made. We are calling on all brands to pay up immediately.  Join us in calling on brands to act.

Which brands have contributed to the fund?

To date the Donor Trust Fund has received just 1/3 of the funds it needs to be able to ensure all the families of victims and the survivors receive the compensation they require.  Just half the companies who were connected to factories in the building have made contributions, they include:

Bonmarché, C&A Foundation, Camaïeu, El Corte Inglés, Inditex, KiK, Loblaw, LPP S.A., Mango, Mascot, Premier Clothing, Primark and Walmart and The Children’s Place through BRAC USA.

But nearly all of these brands have failed to make a significant enough contribution and we are calling on them to increase their donations immediately.

N Brown Group, VF Corporation and The Gap have also made contributions as brands who source from Bangladesh, but had not had a sourcing relationship with Rana Plaza.

 

UnitedVictimsOfBenetton

 

 

After Benetton products were found buried in the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building last year, the company denied all knowledge of the factory, until photos of their labels in the rubble were shown widely by the international media. For over six months they refused to take any responsibility for compensation until in September, they agreed to join a committee set up to design and implement compensation for workers. Two months later they walked away from the process and to date have refused to respond to campaigners demanding action.

Now, almost a year after the horrific Rana Plaza disaster Benetton has yet to contribute a cent to the Rana Plaza Trust Fund, which is collecting contributions to cover compensation for the injured workers and the families of those killed.

SIGN THE GLOBAL PETITION NOW AND JOIN THE CALL ON BENETTON TO PAY UP! 

 

Find out who else is yet to pay here

Bail Denied for 21 Cambodian Workers

Bail has been denied to the 21 remaining detained workers

We are sorry to report that this morning bail was refused for 21 of the 23 Cambodian men who were detained during January’s wage struggles.

The bail hearings were held in a closed session this morning, February 11th, with none of the 21 men in attendance.  All 21 men remain in the CC3 jail north of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, which is notorious for its harsh conditions. Two of the original 23 detainees, were released on bail last Saturday.

We are extremely disappointed at this turn of events and will continue to fight for their immediate release alongside our partners in Cambodia and around the world.

Background Information

On the 24th of December 2013 an estimated 50,000 to 200,000 garment workers went on strike in Cambodia. Their main demand was a living minimum wage of $US160 per month. They were joined by a number of other unions and workers also demanding the same minimum wage.

Demonstrators have faced continuous heavy government repression for demanding this wage. This has included attacks by police, military police, plain clothes thugs, and private security who between them have used an assortment of weapons including tear gas, grenades, axe handles, sling shots, electric batons, AK-47 rifles, and metal poles. By January 4th, 4 workers had been killed, 39 seriously injured, and 23 indefinitely detained in the remote and harsh CC3 prison.

Of those arrested 20 of them were garment workers, and 3 were prominent human rights defenders – Theng Savoeun, Vorn Pao, and Chan Puthisak.

Another 2 workers have since died from injuries sustained at these demonstrations.

 

You can still show your support.

Sign the Petition in support of the remaining detained workers.

The below email will be sent for the attention of the Cambodian Ambassedor stationed at the Cambodian Embassy in the UK.

**PLEASE NOTE YOUR SIGNATURE HAS BEEN RECORDED ONCE YOU CLICK  SEND. WE ARE WORKING ON FIXING THE TECHNICAL ISSUE WITH THIS PROCESS AT THE MOMENT

[emailpetition id=”6″]

Global outcry against Cambodian violence towards workers.

Groups call on global clothing brands to use their influence to achieve an end to repression against workers involved in wage protests and the resumption of good-faith wage negotiations.

Labour rights groups condemn violence against garment workers in Cambodia

Labour rights groups and trade unions across the world are expressing outrage at the brutal violence and repression in Cambodia following demonstrations by garment and footwear workers calling for a raise in the minimum wage.

The groups, including Clean Clothes Campaign, International Labor Rights Forum, Worker Rights Consortium, Maquila Solidarity Network, United Students Against Sweatshops, International Union League for Brand Responsibility, Workers United, SEIU, Framtiden i våre hender, and CNV Internationaal, The Netherlands, are calling on global clothing brands to take immediate action and contact the Cambodian government demanding:

  • Immediate end to all violence and intimidation against workers and their representatives;
  • Release of all those who have been detained for participation in the struggles;
  • Respect for freedom of association and the workers’ right to strike;
  • Refraining from charging the workers and trade union leaders who have participated in the strike;
  • Resumption of good-faith minimum wage negotiations; and
  • Ensuring all those responsible for the violence against the strikers are held to account.

Violence against garment workers began after Cambodian unions called a national strike on December 24, 2013. Workers were demanding an increase in the minimum wage to USD 160 per month. As protests continued, the police and military responded with violence on January 2 and 3, killing at least 4 people and injuring almost 40.

Seven brands sent an open letter to the Government of Cambodia on January 7 expressing their concerns over the recent violence. It is commendable that these brands are willing to speak up and appalling that so many others have remained silent in the face of such blatant human rights violations in their sector. The letter did not go far enough however, in denouncing the reprehensible conduct of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, which has condoned the government’s use of deadly force against striking workers. As poverty wages are at the root of the demonstrations, global clothing brands must also recognise the role they play and take immediate action including:

  • Publicly stating that any future apparel and footwear orders in Cambodia depend on:
    • an immediate end to the violence against workers;
    • the release of all those detained in the wage protests and the dropping of all charges;
    • government re-establishing the right to strike and assemble;
  • Paying fair prices to factories, sufficient to enable employers to pay a decent wage;
  • Supporting the workers’ call for a substantial increase in the minimum wage (to USD 160); and
  • Committing to maintaining buying volumes from Cambodia if wages were to rise.

“Whilst our primary concern is the safety and well-being of those workers who have been detained, we are also calling on brands to look at the long-term implications of their purchasing practices.” said Jeroen Merk of the Clean Clothes Campaign. “Until brands recognise that these practices contribute to the poverty wages received by workers in Cambodia, and in turn the demonstrations we are witnessing, then no brand sourcing from Cambodia can claim to be acting fairly or decently.”

Cambodia’s garment industry employs over 500,000 people, is responsible for around 95% of Cambodia’s export industry and is worth €3.38 billion a year. The minimum wage falls a long way short of a living wage, and the poverty wages workers receive contribute to shocking levels of malnutrition amongst the mainly young female workforce.

“These latest horrific developments demonstrate why authorities can no longer afford to ignore the social problems and poor living conditions facing workers in Cambodia today,” said Tola Meoun, Head of Labor Programmes for the Cambodian NGO Community Legal Education Centre.

On Friday, January 10th, actions will take place at embassies and other locations around the world in a day of solidarity with Cambodian workers. As part of this day of action campaigners will call on the government of Cambodia to release those detained in the protests and resume minimum wage negotiations.

Update:

23 people have been detained. Until January 8, their whereabouts was unknown. Confirmation was received that they were being held in CC3 Prison, an isolated prison located two hours from Kampong Cham town northeast of the capital, Phnom Penh. The next bail hearing for the 23 detained is scheduled for next Tuesday, 11 February.

Sign the Petition in Support of these detained workers. The below email will be sent for the attention of the Cambodian Ambassedor stationed at the Cambodian Embassy in the UK.

[emailpetition id=”6″]

 

About 170 companies have filed cases against trade unions. About 180 workers in total have been dismissed across about 20 factories. Around 30 workers have been reinstated since then.

 

 

Safety secured for over 2 million workers under The Bangladesh Safety Accord

Thanks to the outcry from consumers across the world in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in April 2013, the Bangladesh Safety Accord drove a policy change among retailers operating in Bangladesh and has resulted in 112 brands committing to the Accord to date, covering at least 1,600 factories and securing the safety of over 2 million workers, mostly women, in Bangladesh.

This is an unprecedented development in the acceptance by retailers of responsibility for safety in their supply chains.

Despite over 1 million signatures from across the world Walmart and GAP continue to refuse to sign up, despite having significant manufacturing in Bangladesh and here in Ireland Dunnes Stores still refuse to acknowledge their consumer’s demands and sign the agreement.

Click here for more information on the BFBSA.

Over 70 brands have signed the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord.

Thanks to the outcry from consumers across the world, to date over 70 international brands have signed up to the Bangladesh Building and Fire Safety Accord, securing the safety of over 100,000 workers in the garment industry in Bangladesh.

This is an unprecedented development in the acceptance by retailers of responsibility for safety in their supply chains.

Despite over 1 million signatures from across the world Walmart and GAP continue to refuse to sign up, despite having significant manufacturing in Bangladesh and here in Ireland Dunnes Stores still refuse to acknowledge their consumer’s demands and sign the agreement.

Click here for more information on the BFBSA.