No amount of money will justify what happened but it’s a move in the right direction:
Italian clothes group Benetton has paid $1.1 million into a fund for victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed 1,100 workers in Bangladesh two years ago, the company said on Friday, after pressure from activists to donate to the fund.
Benetton’s contribution comes after more than one million people signed a petition on campaigning site Avaaz calling for the Italian label to join other Western brands linked to the world’s deadliest clothing industry accident in donating.
“Benetton is not giving nearly enough to ease the death and suffering their clothes have caused,” Avaaz Campaign Director Dalia Hashad said in a statement.
However she added the payment set a precedent for other global brands: “when workers die, you cannot walk away.”
The collapse of the Rana Plaza, an eight-storey factory built on marshy ground outside the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, ranks among the world’s worst industrial accidents and highlighted the bleak conditions facing workers in poor countries producing garments for Western retailers.
Benetton said it had given the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund twice the sum suggested by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in a specially commissioned report that would be publicly available.
“Whilst there is no real redress for the tragic loss of life we hope that this robust and clear mechanism for calculating compensation could be used more widely,” Benetton Chief Executive Marco Airoldi said in a statement.
PwC based its recommendation on Benetton’s commercial association with the Rana Plaza factory and an assessment by the International Labour Organisation, which set up the trust fund, that $30 million compensation should be paid into it.
The Donors Trust Fund estimated in December it was around $9 million short of its target and Avaaz had called for Benetton to fill the gap.
Several other groups, including WalMart, JC Penney and The Children’s Place have also faced calls from activist groups to contribute to compensation for victims.