Canadian Firm to Compensate Bangladesh Collapse Victims

By Associated Press 25 October 2013

Grocery giant Loblaw says it will provide long-term help to survivors and the families of victims of April’s Rana Plaza tragedy.
TORONTO — Canadian grocery giant Loblaw Companies Ltd. said Thursday that it will provide long-term financial assistance to the surviving victims and families affected by a deadly factory collapse in Bangladesh.

The company said it “will begin providing long-term, direct financial compensation for the victims and their families that were producing our apparel at the New Wave Style factory in Rana Plaza,” one of five manufacturing plants in the Dhaka plaza that collapsed, killing more than 1,100 workers on April 24.

The factory produced clothing for Loblaw’s Joe Fresh clothing line.

Loblaw did not disclose the amount of compensation to be provided.

Loblaw has also joined with British clothing retailer Primark to provide financial assistance to workers of all retailers in the factory plaza.

“Should the other brands not step forward and join in this funding, we will join Primark and immediately contribute to the payment of three months wages for the approximately 3,600 individuals involved, regardless of the brand apparel that was being produced in their workplace,” said Bob Chant, Loblaw’s senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications.

The company says it has previously donated US$1 million to non-governmental organizations Save the Children Bangladesh and the Center for Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed, to help those in the country’s garment industry.

This latest announcement marks the six-month anniversary of the deadly factory collapse, which has been called the industry’s worst disaster.

Following the accident, Loblaw signed a five-year pact to improve fire and building safety in Bangladesh.

Several other big retailers have also signed the pact including Benetton, trendy Swedish fashion chain H&M, C&A of the Netherlands, British retailers Tesco and Primark, and Spain’s Inditex, owner of Zara.

The agreement requires that the companies conduct independent safety inspections, make their reports on factory conditions public and cover the costs for needed repairs.

The companies that agreed to the pact join two other retailers that signed the contract last year: PVH, which makes clothes under the Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Izod labels, and German retailer Tchibo.

Working conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry have come under increased scrutiny in recent years. Since 2005, at least 1,800 workers have been killed in the Bangladeshi garment industry in factory fires and building collapses, according to research by the advocacy group International Labor Rights Forum.

The April collapse came months after a fire in another garment factory in Bangladesh in November 2012, killed 112 workers.