Pressure on Primark grows over Bangladesh factory deaths

By agency reporter
2 May 2013

Primark is facing unprecedented pressure to ensure that the tragedy witnessed in Bangladesh lasty week never happens again.

The call – issued on International Workers Day, one week on since the tragedy – also goes to Matalan and Mango, and the other retailers who bought clothes made by workers in the block.

The pressure came as more than 67,000 people signed a petition calling on the retailers to pay compensation for full loss of earnings to the families of all workers killed or injured in the collapse of the building, where garment workers produced their clothes.

The petition also demands action to prevent the future deaths of garment workers.

The petition was launched on the Change.org website by the National Garment Workers’ Federation (NGWF), the partner of UK anti-poverty charity War on Want.

Primark has now committed to compensate the families of workers killed or injured.

But pressure for further action by Primark is mounting as the petition demands full redress, including loss of earnings, and that the retailer signs the preventive Bangladesh Fire and Safety Agreement to avoid future deaths of garment workers.

Other companies are responding to the pressure. Matalan has promised to provide "financial and other support" to those affected. This falls far short of meeting the victims right to full compensation.

Mango has still failed to act.

The NGWF president, Amirul Haque Amin, said: “The promise by Primark to compensate the families of the workers killed or injured merits a cautious welcome, since the devil remains in the detail on the extent of its redress.

“But this was a calamity waiting to happen, because high street chains failed to ensure proper safety measures.

“The public response to our petition gives us hope that if more people join them, we will win our fight for justice.”

Ruth Tanner, campaigns and policy director at War on Want, said: ”Getting Primark to take responsibilities for their role in this disaster is a start. The support of over 60,000 people who have signed this petition has been vital in making this happen.

“This is a huge call for justice for the people who make our clothes. The campaign will continue until Primark and the rest of the companies commit to full compensation and sign the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Agreement to prevent the future deaths of garment workers.”

So far the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Agreement has been signed by the world’s largest shirt company, PVH, which owns brands including Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, and German retailer Tchibo.

The petition is at www.waronwant.org/bangladeshfactory

[Ekk/4]

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