Six months after the Rana Plaza building collapse and eleven months after the Tazreen Fashions fire, the injured workers and the families who lost loved ones face immense financial hardship. In addition to the physical pain and psychological trauma, they are suffering from loss of income while continuing to await full and fair compensation from government, factory owners, and European and North American brands and retailers.
This report by the Clean Clothes Campaign and the International Labor Rights Forum is an examination of the aftermath of these two garment industry disasters in Bangladesh. We avoid using the word “accidents” because we acknowledge that these tragedies could have been prevented with proper fire and building safety measures and with respect for workers’ right to refuse dangerous work. The report finds that as of yet very little compensation from the negligent parties responsible for the catastrophes has reached the survivors and the families of the deceased.
A process for delivering compensation to the families of workers who died at Rana Plaza has now begun and there are some promising steps forward on developing a mechanism that will enable this much needed compensation to become a reality. What is missing is the commitment from the majority of brands with links to the Rana Plaza factories to pay the money needed.
In the six months since Rana Plaza, many of the brands and retailers sourcing from Bangladesh have taken some first steps towards a safer industry by forming the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which now has over 100 signatories. This is a start – but much more needs to be done. All apparel companies sourcing from Bangladesh must join the Accord and all responsible companies should urgently participate in the compensation process for Tazreen and Rana Plaza victims. There must be a commitment from all brands to ensuring compensation funds are sufficient to cover full and fair compensation payments to all the victims and their families. The initial outcry after these horrific tragedies must be translated into a sustained and continuous call for change throughout the industry, a change that will ensure that the women who make our clothes finally get the respect and dignity they deserve.