Demonstrators gathered outside Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Monday to protest the slow pace of the payment of compensation, 10 months after the building’s collapse killed 1,133 workers.
Survivors, relatives of the dead and activists blamed foreign retailers as well as the government and employers for subjecting them to a long delay in making any payments. Survivors outlined the hardships they have suffered, and called for immediate action.
“Although it appears that many things are changing in the garment industry, it is as if we are not getting any benefit,” said Arik Rahman, a relative of one of those killed in the collapse of the eight-story building, who told WWD that it was a matter of shame that survivors and relatives had to wait for compensation.
On Monday, Clean Clothes Campaign launched the “Pay Up!” campaign to ensure that survivors and victims’ families were not waiting for compensation as the first anniversary of the disaster nears. It also has put a number to the amount needed, calling for donations of $40 million to compensate the families and the injured for the loss of income and medical expenses.
“The fund is open to all companies, donors and individuals who wish to express their solidarity and compassion,” CCC said, calling on brands such as Benetton, KiK and Children’s Place, “who all had orders at one of the five factories in Rana Plaza at the time of the collapse or in the recent past, to make significant contributions in order to ensure payments can begin.”
El Corte Inglés, Mascot, Mango, Inditex and Loblaw have already contributed to the fund and the CCC’s Ineke Zeldenrust said those donations were welcomed. But, reflecting the sentiments of the workers at Rana Plaza, she said overall the compensation efforts have been “completely haphazard, unequal, unpredictable and nontransparent, and have left large groups of victims with nothing.”
The organization said it has linked 27 brands directly to factories in Rana Plaza with either recent or trial orders or previous production, adding, “We believe they should all publicly contribute to the Rana Plaza Donor’s Trust Fund.”
Officials of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association have said it is a challenge to process and distinguish false claims and clearly identify the dead, but CCC noted that the “most credible labor and civil society organizations would be involved in processing claims through a team of independent local and international claim commissioners. In addition, medical assessments would be undertaken by qualified local doctors at the Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralysed.”
BGMEA officials, who have been accused by workers of not doing enough to hurry the process along, agree that a garment workers victim foundation to support workers would help address victims of past events as well as protect others. However, they believe that the foundation should be supported by the U.S.-based retailers that make up the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety as well as the group of European retailers that support the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.
Over the last week, there has been much discussion among factory owners about other important issues and details being finalized to prevent similar disasters. As the Accord started its safety inspections of factories — intended to cover 1,500 sites by September — factory owners in Dhaka have been demanding that retailers put in more money to meet the requirements for installing better fire escapes, sprinkler systems and other safety measures.
“The requirements being set to us are not realistic given the financial abilities to meet them,” said Reaz Mahmud, a senior management official of a factory in Savar. “And then different brands want to come and inspect us separately as well. There are many things to be thought through before this is possible.”
Other factory owners said that the stringent conditions regarding factories not functioning out of shared buildings or rented houses were impossible to meet in such a short time frame, especially for older buildings that may need more restructuring to meet new safety standards.
Government officials have said that their factory inspections began a few months ago and are separate from the inspections being launched by the Accord team. In their view, even older factories were not impossible to rescue with some focused attention.
“It will be possible to reduce the vulnerability of old establishments in Dhaka by applying retrofitting technology,” said public works minister engineer Mosharraf Hossain.
More than 300 factories have been retrofitted to repair structural weakness since December, according to government officials.
Fumio Kaneko, team leader of the Japan International Cooperation Agency study team, pointed out at a seminar in Dhaka on Sunday that the collapse of buildings in Dhaka, such as Rana Plaza, is largely due to faulty and weak foundations, which need to be corrected.
Other problems persist. Although the wage board has come up with a new minimum wage, a survey of 946 factories by BGMEA revealed that only 60 percent of factory owners had begun paying the higher rate. BGMEA officials told WWD that these higher wages were in the process of implementation, and despite the deadline set for Dec. 1, 2013, for the higher wage of 5,300 taka, or $66, a month, the process of change was a slow one.
So as workers demand quicker action, employers, factory owners and government officials are asking for more time. As commerce minister Tofail Ahmed said earlier this month, referring to the stringent conditions being put forth by global retailers, “We are fully committed to improving workplace safety. But we need time to do so.”
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews