Global Unions say to Benetton ‘Pagare’/Pay Up!

Thursday 19 February 2015, 10am

Countdown to second Rana Plaza anniversary: Benetton pay up on Rana Plaza compensation!

Benetton is the only major international brand confirmed to have sourced clothing from Rana Plaza which has not paid a cent into the compensation fund for victims. UNI Global Union and its sister global union IndustriALL are leading demands for Benetton to do the right thing and pay into the fund. The fund is US $9 million short of the US $30 million needed to fully compensate the victims, as the countdown to the second anniversary of the tragedy on 24 April begins.

Pressure is mounting on the Italian clothing giant Benetton after one million consumers signed an Avaaz petition calling on the company to pay compensation to victims’ families and the survivors of the deadly Rana Plaza factory collapse. The petition follows calls at the recent UNI Global Union World Congress, which represents 20 million workers, demanding Benetton pay up.

UNI Global Union General Secretary, Philip Jennings had this message for Benetton management, “Benetton it’s time for you to change your colours! The clock is ticking and time is fast running out as we approach the second anniversary of the worst garment factory disaster in history. Benetton you produced at Rana Plaza now deliver for the victims you can afford it.”

IndustriALL Global Union’s General Secretary, Jyrki Raina said, “The magnitude of this on-going tragedy cannot be brushed aside. Children lost their mothers, families lost their incomes, and many of the survivors were so seriously injured physically and mentally that they can no longer work or feed their families. There are other brands too who should be paying more compensation but Benetton must take a lead – the door to discussions is always open. Benetton the responsibility lies squarely with you.”

 “After everything we have been through, we should not be forced to beg or to rely on charity for a living,” said Mahinur Begum, a Rana Plaza survivor. “We are entitled to full and fair compensation.”

John Douglas, General Secretary of Mandate Trade Union, also called on the company to take some responsibility for the disaster which left more than 1,100 workers dead and 2,500 people injured:

“Every single employer operating inside the Rana Plaza building must share some of the responsibility for this disaster. It is beyond shameful that companies like Benetton ignore the families of the dead and the injured in the hope that this will all just go away. We are demanding that Benetton hand over the desperately needed compensation, which amounts to very little for a multi-national retailer but means so much for the families of the victims. Until they do take responsibility, we will ensure their part in the disaster is not forgotten.”

Note

More than 1,100 people died in the Rana Plaza collapse, which happened on the morning of 24 April 2013 in the Savar suburb of the Bangladesh capital Dhaka. Despite clear warnings that the building was about to collapse, including a newspaper report, workers were told to be in work or lose their jobs. That threat cost many more lives.

Over the past year, the Rana Plaza Donors’ Trust Fund, set up under the stewardship of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has raised around US $21 million in donations from global brands, the Bangladeshi Prime Minister’s Fund, trade unions and civil society. However, $9 million is still needed in order to reach the estimated funding gap.

To date 5,000 people – dependents of the deceased as well as injured workers – have received 40% of the total compensation payment due to them, according to the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee, which is chaired by the ILO.

The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which was founded by global unions UNI Global Union and IndustriALL in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse has now been signed by around 200 global brands. The Accord, which carries out independent factory inspection programmes on two thousands garment factories in Bangladesh, is helping to improve safety and sustainability across the country’s garment sector.

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