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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.