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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora