BERLIN — British clothing retailer Primark will pay $10 million more in compensation to victims of the victims of Bangladesh factory collapse last year that killed over 1,100 people.
The disaster galvanized most of the clothing industry’s biggest names to work together to improve safety standards, but many brands have shunned a fund that is trying to raise $40 million for the over 2,000 people that were injured and the families of the dead.
Campaigners are demanding that 27 brands linked to factories in the Rana Plaza complex should contribute to the fund run by the International Labor Organization (ILO) by April 24th, which would mark the first anniversary of the collapse.
Primark has already paid $2 million in short-term financial support and food distribution. It would pay out the extra $10 million in long-term compensation — $9 million directly to the 580 workers of its supplier in Rana Plaza or their dependants, and another $1 million to the fund, according to the company.
Cash payments to the workers of its supplier, New Wave Bottoms, would begin this week, with the amount to be paid based on estimates of lost earnings for the dependants of those killed and on the level of disability for those injured, according to Primark.
A Primark spokesman:
“With the first anniversary of Rana Plaza fast approaching, we are determined to meet this responsibility to workers in our supply chain. We are therefore pleased to be in a position to now press ahead with payments.”
Rock-bottom wages and trade deals have made Bangladesh’s garments sector a $22 billion industry that accounts for four-fifths of exports, with around 60 percent of garment exports going to Europea nd 23 percent to the United States.
Owned by Associated British Foods, Primark’s low prices have helped it expand to more than 250 stores throughout Europe. It urged other retailers to donate to the industry fund so it could pay out in full to all victims.
Campaginers from the Clean Clothes Campaign and trade unions IndustriALL and UNI Global Union last week called on Primark to pay into the ILO-run fund.
“There is a long way to go before the $40 million needed to make payments to all workers is found.”
The claims process for the fund is set to start on March 24. Only a few brands have so far publicly pledged initial donations, according to campaigners. Those brands are listed below with their home country.
- Loblaw (Canada)
- Bon Marche and Premier Clothing (UK)
- Mascot (Denmark)
- El Corte Ingles (Spain)
- Mango (Spain)
- Inditex (Spain)
About 3.6 million of Bangladesh’s 155 million people work in the clothing industry, making it the world’s second-largest garments exporter behind China.