More must be done to improve working conditions in Bangladesh, say MEPs
Parliament marked the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza textile factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed over 1,100 people, by welcoming progress made by the EU-led initiative to improve working conditions there. But much remains to be done, including tackling anti-union discrimination and allegedly endemic corruption of health and safety inspectors, it adds, in a resolution voted on Wednesday.
MEPs also urged all the private companies concerned to make and disclose all the necessary payments into the Trust Fund created to compensate the victims and their families.
The resolution was passed by 666 votes to 8, with 13 abstentions.
Bangladesh Sustainability Compact
The Bangladesh Sustainability Compact is an initiative launched two years ago by the EU, together with the Bangladeshi authorities, and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), to improve labour standards and working conditions there.
MEPs note the good progress made but urge the Bangladeshi government to act on all its commitments as a matter of priority. They express concern about "widespread anti-union discrimination" and allegations of endemic corruption between health and safety inspectors and clothing factory owners".
The Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund
The Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, created to collect voluntary donations from companies in order to compensate the victims and families is still US$ 3 million short of the US$ 30 million total needed.. Parliament "urges the international brands sourcing from Rana Plaza, or having significant ties to Bangladesh to ensure that all owed compensations will be distributed without delay”.
MEPs point out that about one-third of the companies deemed to have links to the factory complex, such as Adler Modemarkte, Ascena Retail, Carrefour, Grabalok, J.C. Penney, Manifattura Corona, NKD, PWT or YesZee, have yet to pay into the Trust Fund. They also regret that after months of stalling, Benetton has only granted US$ 1.1 million to the Trust Fund, even though the necessary contribution is estimated to be much higher, based on its ability to pay.
Similarly, MEPs regret that every brand linked to Rana Plaza, has failed to live up to its responsibilities by making insufficient donations, including Mango, Matalan, and Inditex (which have refused to disclose theirs) and others such as Walmart and The Children’s Place (which have contributed only minimal amounts).
The ‘Understanding for a Practical Arrangement on Payments to the Victims of the Rana Plaza Accidents and their Families’ (Donor Trust Fund), was created on 24 April 2013 to compensate the victims of the disaster and their families. It was signed by the representatives of the Government of Bangladesh, local garment manufacturers and international garment brands, local and international trade unions and international NGOs. The amount determined to cover the costs of all claims is USD 30 million. As of the second anniversary of the disaster, the total amount raised by voluntary corporate contributions was around USD 27 million, thus leaving 3 million outstanding.
- The Rana Plaza building collapse was Bangladesh’s worst-ever industrial disaster and the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern history
- Bangladesh had become the second-largest exporter of garments in the world after China
- 60 % of its clothing output is going to the EU, which is Bangladesh’s major export market
- Ready - made garment industry in Bangladesh employs some 4 million people and indirectly supports the livelihoods of 40 million people