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.