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Victory: Bangladesh Garment Workers Win Full Compensation

Textile workers at a sweatshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the same city where the Tazreen and Rana Plaza factory disasters occurred. (Flickr / Asian Development Bank)  

The International Labor Rights Forum is thrilled to announce that two years of campaigning, with over one million people participating, has succeeded in securing $30 million in compensation for the victims of the Rana Plaza building collapse – the deadliest disaster in the history of the global garment industry.

“This campaign victory would not have been possible without the hard work of workers’ rights groups and labor unions on the ground in Bangladesh, and activism from a wide array of allies around the world who held more than a hundred store actions and demonstrations at corporate headquarters,” said Judy Gearhart, Executive Director of the International Labor Rights Forum.

On April 24, 2013, Rana Plaza, an eight-story building housing five garment factories, collapsed, killing at least 1,138 people and injuring another 2,500. Bangladesh lacks a national workplace injury compensation program, and so, in the wake of the tragedy, workers’ rights advocates united in calling on the apparel brands and retailers whose clothes were produced at Rana Plaza to pay full and fair compensation to the injured survivors and the families of the deceased.

The United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO) set up the Rana Plaza Trust Fund in January 2014 to collect funds to cover loss of income and medical expenses for Rana Plaza victims and their families. In November 2014 the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee announced that it would need $30 million to pay awards to 5,000 claimants under the scheme.

“We’re glad to have finally secured this basic compensation to help ease the suffering of the survivors and families who have been living in dire economic hardship,” said Gearhart. “Looking ahead, the government of Bangladesh should establish a proper workplace injury compensation program, and apparel brands must factor the cost of safety into the price they pay to factories so that they are paying for the real cost of business in Bangladesh.”

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