Buyers’ compensation for Rana Plaza victims far from reality
Ibrahim Hossain Ovi

The meeting was rescheduled as the brands refused to sign an agreement in finalising the proposal

A meeting among the world’s apparel retailers on proposed compensation for Rana Plaza victims ended inconclusive in Geneva on Friday, but they are scheduled to meet again on November 28.

The meeting was rescheduled as the brands refused to sign an agreement in finalising the proposal – an initiative by the IndustriALL with support from the International Labour Organisation.

“The long overdue final agreement on compensation to Rana Plaza victims is still not finalised as brands continue to hesitate,” said a statement of IndustriALL. Walmart, Carrefour, Bonmarché, Mango, Auchan and Kik refused to sign the arrangement.

The next compensation meeting is scheduled on November 28, where further discussion will be held on how to incorporate the increased minimum wage, scheduled to be announced in a week’s time, into the compensation figures, said the statement.

The arrangement has been signed by four brands Primark, Loblaw, Bonmarche and El Corte Ingles. “This Arrangement will establish the independent fund in Bangladesh into which the brands will pay, as well as local actors.”

On November 14, at a meeting the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the various parties involved in compensation negotiations once again discussed establishing a fund to pay survivors and families of the dead workers of Rana Plaza.

The meeting had participation via teleconference from ILO Dhaka with the Bangladeshi government, BGMEA, IndustriALL Bangladesh Council and the NCCWE Bangladeshi workers’ body.

The situation for many of the Rana Plaza survivors and their families is extreme and around 90% of all employees of the five collapsed factories are still unable to work due to the psychological damage the collapse caused, IndustriALL said quoting a survivor.

“How can the brands that sourced from Rana Plaza continue to refuse to pay? What they are obliged under international employment standards and ILO Convention 121,” said IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Monika Kemperle.

“We are expecting to disburse compensation to the victims by January 14 next year,” IndustriALL Bangladesh representative Roy Ramesh Chandra told Dhaka Tribune on Saturday. “We have identified 29 brands, which sourced from the Rana Plaza factories, of which 9 joined the meeting and four signed the agreement, he added.

“All brands need to step up – and stop hiding or presenting excuses. No brand can go it alone on compensation – by doing so they will fail the majority of workers and any compensation paid out will be partial, limited and unpredictable,” said Ineke Zeldenrust of the Clean Clothes Campaign.

The arrangement will ensure that ALL the victims of this terrible disaster finally get the compensation they deserve in a transparent manner with independent oversight, said Zeldenrust. The government of Bangladesh is under pressure to soon sign the MoU, following minor amendments to the text, and BGMEA will follow.

Meanwhile, the Clean Clothes Campaign and IndustriALL Global Union urged all brands and retailers linked to the disaster at the Rana Plaza building to work together to sign up to a credible and collaborative process for delivering compensation to the victims of the disaster.

On 24 April 2013, Rana Plaza, an eight-story commercial building, collapsed in Savar killing over 11,00 workers and 2,500 sustained injuries.

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