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Compensation funds still needed for Tazreen and Rana Plaza victims and survivors

December 19, 2014

Photo: Clean Clothes Campaign. April, 2013

On November 24, the second anniversary of the Tazreen factory fire in Bangladesh, the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and the Global Union IndustriALL announced that they had reached agreement with the European retailer C&A on a system for delivering long-term compensation to the families of the 120 workers killed and the 300 workers seriously injured.

According to CCC, C&A has agreed to pay a substantial portion of the compensation owed to the victims and survivors of the fire. The delivery system for compensation is based on that established by the Rana Plaza Donors' Trust Fund. North American companies sourcing from the Tazreen factory that had not yet provided any compensation include Walmart, Dickies, Sears, Disney and Sean John.

In October, the Rana Plaza Trust Fund distributed the first installment of compensation to close to 1,600 families of those killed and workers injured in the Rana Plaza building collapse. Another 2,500 claimants were also expected to receive a first installment of compensation. However, because brands had failed to deliver the full amount of funding needed, the first installment was for only 40% of what the claimants are owed.

To date, approximately US$21 million has been collected for the Trust Fund, with $9 million yet to be raised to fully compensate all the eligible claimants.

On December 3, the Rana Plaza Trust Fund Coordination Committee revised its original estimate of compensation owing from $40 million to $30 million. According to the Committee, the original target was developed using a statistical sample of data that had already been collected on the Rana Plaza victims, which included a higher percentage of deceased and seriously injured workers than has been the case in reality. Their new estimate is based on an assessment of over 80% of all claims filed, so the Committee is confident that $30 million will be sufficient to pay all claims and medical costs in full.

On September 15, MSN and the Canadian Labour Congress release an Open Letter to the Canadian government signed by 55 prominent Canadian organizations calling on the government to publicly urge all Canadian companies that have apparel products made in Bangladesh to contribute generously to the Trust Fund, irrespective of whether they had direct links to factories in Rana Plaza.

The letter resulted in a meeting with the Canadian government, but no concrete action to date. MSN has also been lobbying Canadian companies directly to contribute to the Fund, but no companies have made firm commitments.

Loblaw (owner of Joe Fresh) continues to be the only Canadian company that has publicly declared its contribution to the Trust Fund. On December 12, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund put Canadian retailers to shame by announcing its decision to contribute CAD$20,000 to the Trust Fund.

On December 10, International Human Rights Day, the Clean Clothes Campaign launched a new website to increase the pressure Benetton to contribute to the Trust Fund. In North America, the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) is coordinating campaign activities targeting both Walmart and Benetton.

Click on the following for further information and to take action to pressure Benetton and Walmart.