These clothing giants are shamefully ducking their responsibilities in Bangladesh

In the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory disaster, Primark has emerged as an unlikely hero, but unilateral action is not enough

Share

The collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex in Bangladesh in April dominated global attention for weeks, as rescuers fought to pull survivors from the ruins. More than 1,200 died in the country’s worst industrial tragedy; another 1,900 were injured.

The disaster had a particularly grim resonance because clothes sold by many international chains were produced by Rana Plaza workers paid miserly wages and working long hours in Dickensian conditions. Customers of brands including Primark, Matalan, and Walmart were forced to examine their consciences as the human cost of those low price tags became horribly clear.

Since then, however, Primark has emerged as an unlikely hero of the disaster. Not only did the company waste no time in paying three months’ salaries both to the injured and to the families of those who died. (It is so far the only retailer involved to do so.) Its representatives also showed up in Geneva yesterday for a meeting of retailers who sourced clothes from Rana Plaza’s factories, chaired by the International Labour Organisation, to discuss compensation.

In fairness, 10 other companies were present at the meeting called by IndustriALL, the global industrial union, including Matalan and Bon Marché, and they agreed to contribute to a new fund to help the victims. Primark also agreed to pay another tranche of salaries. But, scandalously, another 20 failed to turn up, including Benetton, Carrefour, Mango and Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer.

Some of those who stayed away insist that they intend to make their own compensation arrangements, but others have pledged nothing. If retailers are too mean and hard-hearted to act spontaneously, it is up to their customers to give vigorous demonstration of their outrage. In the meantime, Rana Plaza’s impoverished victims and their families – with neither work nor compensation – are learning brutal lessons about the priorities in the wealthy West.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile App/IOS Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC)

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Mobile App/IOS...

Front End Developer-JavaScript, Angular J.S, HTML, CSS, ASP.NET

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front End Deve...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Only a game? Far from it

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi speaking at the Grand Mosque in Mosul  

The al-Baghdadi doctrine: leading British Muslims offer their response

Independent Voices
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil