News / Asia

Primark Pays More Compensation to Bangladesh Factory Victims

FILE - A Primark clothing store is seen in central London.FILE - A Primark clothing store is seen in central London.
x
FILE - A Primark clothing store is seen in central London.
FILE - A Primark clothing store is seen in central London.
Reuters
Clothing chain Primark laid out plans to pay more compensation to victims of the Rana Plaza factory disaster in Bangladesh on Thursday as workers' groups held a vigil at the site demanding other western brands follow suit.
 
The collapse on April 24 that killed 1,129 people has galvanized some of the clothing industry's big names to try to improve safety standards at suppliers but they have failed to agree on a compensation fund for victims despite months of wrangling.
 
Primark, the only retailer supplied by the factory to pay compensation so far, said it would pay out for the third time to 550 workers who worked for its partner New Wave Bottoms at the building. Each will receive another three months wages.
 
It has already paid six months salary to all 3,621 workers affected by the collapse and their families, committing some $2 million in short-term financial support and food distribution.
 
The chain owned by Associated British Foods, whose low prices have helped it expand to more than 250 stores in Britain and Europe, said it was also pressing ahead with plans to pay long-term compensation in the New Year despite the lack of an industry-wide agreement.
 
A garment worker who survived the Rana Plaza building collapse takes part in a protest with her child to demand compensation, at the factory site in Savar, Bangladesh, October 24, 2013.A garment worker who survived the Rana Plaza building collapse takes part in a protest with her child to demand compensation, at the factory site in Savar, Bangladesh, October 24, 2013.
x
A garment worker who survived the Rana Plaza building collapse takes part in a protest with her child to demand compensation, at the factory site in Savar, Bangladesh, October 24, 2013.
A garment worker who survived the Rana Plaza building collapse takes part in a protest with her child to demand compensation, at the factory site in Savar, Bangladesh, October 24, 2013.
“Primark is calling on other brands involved in the Rana Plaza disaster to make a contribution by paying short-term aid to some 3,000 workers or their dependents who made clothes for their labels,” it said in a statement.
 
Primark, whose supplier occupied the second floor of the eight story building, pledged to pay a further three-months salary to all Rana Plaza workers or their families if the other brands fail to contribute.
 
About 3.6 million people work in Bangladesh's clothing industry, making it the world's second-largest garments exporter behind China, but some of the workforce, which is mostly female, earn as little as $38 a month. About 60 percent of garment exports go to Europe and 23 percent to the United States.
 
Bangladesh's factory owners are currently penciling in a rise of about 50 to 80 percent in the minimum wage in a bid to end a wave of strikes that hit nearly a fifth of workshops last month.
 
Commemorative vigil
 
The International Labor Organization has been coordinating talks to try to get an agreement on setting up long-term funds for Rana Plaza workers and for victims of a fire at the Tazreen factory in November 2012, which killed 112 workers - thus far to little effect.
 
IndustriALL and UNI, two global trade unions that have been involved in the process, are planning a candlelight vigil at sundown at Rana Plaza to mark the tragedy's six-month mark. On top of those killed in the disaster, hundreds were seriously injured and will need support for years to come.
 
“Survivors and victims' families at Rana Plaza today remembered their loved ones and all ask the same question: When will we finally receive compensation for our loss?” the unions said in a statement.
 
FILE - A view of rescue workers attempting to find survivors from the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar April 30, 2013.FILE - A view of rescue workers attempting to find survivors from the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar April 30, 2013.
x
FILE - A view of rescue workers attempting to find survivors from the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar April 30, 2013.
FILE - A view of rescue workers attempting to find survivors from the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar April 30, 2013.
Rock bottom wages and trade deals have made Bangladesh's garments sector a $22 billion industry accounting for four-fifths of exports in the country of 155 million. Retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc, JC Penney Co Inc, and H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB all buy clothes from its factories.
 
Some of the 28 brands supplied from Rana Plaza say their production was outsourced to the factory without their knowledge, while others say they prefer to pursue their own compensation plans.
 
Advocacy groups, the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and the International Labor Rights Forum, noted that Canada's Loblaw Cos Ltd had also committed to provide short-term relief, while Italian retailer Benetton and Spanish chain El Corte Ingles were participating in attempts to establish a fund.
 
They said Zara-owner Inditex, Britain's Bonmarche and Mascot of Denmark had signaled their intent to contribute to a fund, but said scores of other brands were doing too little.
 
“It is time that all brands linked to the tragedies step up and ... pay into the fund, and thereby take financial responsibility for a disaster that they failed to prevent,” said Ineke Zeldenrust of the CCC.
 
A group of North American retailers and apparel makers set up after the disaster has already completed inspections of more than half of Bangladesh garment factories with whom they do business in an effort to improve fire and building safety, the group said this week.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs