Rana Plaza victims waiting for Benetton’s contribution to fill current funding gap
On 10 March 2015, the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee approved the next round of compensation payments to the victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse. This next round of payment will be dispersed imminently to the 5,000 claimants, who are dependents of the deceased as well as injured workers. This round of payment is sufficient to pay an additional 30% of each award, making the total amount received by each eligible beneficiary only 70% of the amount they are entitled to. With this payment the majority of the funds received into the Fund will be distributed and the payment of the final 30% of each compensation claim will only take place once more donations are made to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, which remains at a US $9 million shortfall.
In the past year, the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund set up by the ILO in January 2014 has received around US $21 million in donations from global brands, the Bangladeshi Prime Minister’s Fund, trade unions and civil society. With $9 million more in donations still needed to fill the gap in the Fund, victims will be forced to continue to wait for full compensation. The compensation amounts are calculated in line with international standards. Despite this, brands continue to be extremely reluctant to make meaningful payments to ensure that the victims of the Rana Plaza collapse receive full and fair compensation.
"Now that the next round of payments have been authorized, the Fund urgently needs more donations. There will be no more money in the Fund, which means that families will then be placed in a precarious situation of not knowing if they will ever receive the full compensation that they are entitled to", says Sam Maher of the Clean Clothes Campaign. "Every single brand has the responsibility to ensure that the victims receive full and fair compensation. Until this is accomplished, brands should recognize that their responsibility to the victims has not been fulfilled."
Benetton released a statement at the end of February confirming their intention to donate to the Fund, but since then Benetton has remained silent on the matter. Benetton claim they are delaying to allow time for a consultant to advise them on a fair amount of payment, but refuse to disclose any information about who will carry out this work, the methodology with which they will determine the amount, or a date for when a donation will be announced.
The Clean Clothes Campaign urges Benetton to make an immediate payment of at least $5 million to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund - an amount believed to be proportional according to Benetton’s ability to pay, the size of their relationship with Bangladesh and their relationship with Rana Plaza.
Other companies such as Children’s Place, Inditex (Zara), Mango, Matalan, and Walmart have failed to contribute a significant and proportional amount. Therefore all companies connected to the Rana Plaza building are urged to immediately increase their donations in order to ensure the Fund reaches US $30 million by the second anniversary of the disaster. The Bangladeshi Prime Minister's Fund, which collected numerous donations following the disaster, and the Bangladeshi factory owners’ association (the BGMEA), should also contribute more to the Fund.
“The $9 million shortfall is totally unacceptable, and we need to see all stakeholders involved, particularly Benetton and other brands, step up and fulfill their responsibility”, says Sam Maher.
"In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, when the industry made all sorts of commitments to the victims of Rana Plaza, we never imagined that full and fair compensation would still be an issue almost 2 years later. Any of the companies - Benetton, Walmart, Inditex, Mango – have the ability to fill the gap. All earn hundreds of millions of dollars in profit each year; money earned on the backs of the workers like those who died in the Rana Plaza collapse. Its time for these brands to stop playing politics with people’s lives, and fill the gap immediately."