Imperialism raises its ugly head in Bangladesh

The Rana Plaza factory building disaster in Savar, Bangladesh, six months ago had snuffed out 1,129 lives of workers for leading clothing brands who are yet to be compensated.

It brings forth a cruel and unforgivable picture of the garment factory employers in this age when the world has seemingly abolished imperialism and racism of its face.

We have been living in a world where relatives of the dead, injured and missing garment factory workers have formed a group to lay claim from the 15 brands whose clothes were produced at the site. However these brands have yet to reach an agreement let alone pay any long-term compensation to the injured workers or the next of kin of the dead and missing.

The inadequate Government aids and initiatives have certainly raised eyebrows as they are committed towards social benevolence and are expected to safeguard the victims of any such calamities.

The brands include Spanish fashion company Inditex, UK work wear producer Premier and US supermarket Walmart, all of whom sold clothing made at Rana Plaza.

Each of them has been called upon to help the victims’ families and survivors of the factory disaster to undertake a long-term compensation commitment which will ensure and implement the payment of full and fair compensation. This clarion call has come from different workers’ rights group and other clothing retailers at the international level and aimed at all brands who were sourcing either directly or indirectly from factories housed in Rana Plaza.

As accidents are always probable they have also been directed to agree to finalize a deal as to the terms and conditions that will apply in case of occurrence of accidents to avoid making any tragic situation worse with the poor workers having to face uncertainty from either survival or high medical bills leading to penury.

In the aftermath of the immense pressure the leading brands like Benetton, the Italian fashion brand and nine other companies, including Primark, Matalan and Bonmarché from the UK and Loblaw from Canada got together in recent weeks to discuss long-term compensation arrangements for Rana Plaza victims.

There is however no reason for delight as workers are likely to have to wait until the new year to receive payment as negotiations are still on about the scale of payments on which are workers are to be paid.

Primark is the only one to have paid out short-term financial aid to Rana Plaza workers in the last six months but it has no permanent plans for continuing to grant any financial assistance at this point.

Inditex, the owner of the Zara chain, is a Spanish retailer who had provided support in the immediate aftermath of the factory collapse. This week they have put up cash benefits for the Rana Plaza victims. However US giant Walmart had completely washed its hands off claiming that its products were not made in the building in Savar at Rana Plaza at the time of the accident.

Due to this dreadful and catastrophic accident in April 2013 brands as well the Government has started looking at building safety measures. Some have improved but there is a long way to safety for Bangladeshi garment factory workers can heave a sigh of relief from poor conditions of work, improper methods of maintaining records and proper payment channels like bank accounts which are undeniable proof of their existence.

Let us hope that other clothes retailer follow in the footsteps of Primark which has offered to compensate injured workers and relatives of those who died in the Rana Plaza factory disaster in Bangladesh in the long term.

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