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

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultan...

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£22000 - £25900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is expanding and th...

Recruitment Genius: Corporate Account Manager

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Corporate Account Manager is ...

Recruitment Genius: Chef de Partie

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This award winning conference venues provider...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Hollywood: Stop trying to make Superman cool. The world needs a boy scout in blue

Matthew James
A man enjoys the  

If you really want to legalise cannabis, then why on earth would you go and get high in a park?

Peter Reynolds
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders