24/04/2014 On the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh – where over a thousand workers making clothes for high streets in London and elsewhere lost their lives – London Green MEP Jean Lambert has urged the retailers and fashion brands who have not yet paid compensation to stop dragging their heels and stump up.
The Rana Plaza tragedy highlighted the appalling conditions faced by workers in Bangladesh’s garment industry, most of whom are women.
A trust fund was set up to provide compensation for the families of those who were killed and the survivors, but only half the brands associated with the factories have made any contribution to date, and only one third of the funds needed have been paid.
As the European Parliament’s Chair of the Delegation for Relations with South Asia, including Bangladesh, Ms Lambert has today (Thursday) written to those companies who have not yet paid asking them to make a much-needed contribution to the fund.
To mark the anniversary of the catastrophe, Jean Lambert today attended a War on Want event on Oxford Street, a global campaign raising awareness of the true cost of fashion.
Ms Lambert said the big names of London’s fashion industry have to take responsibility for the safety and working conditions of those that supply them.
Ms Lambert is also visiting a clothing manufacturer in Finsbury Park, North London to highlight the importance of transparency in working conditions for fashion industry suppliers.
Ms Lambert is Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with South Asia and visited Dhaka recently to discuss the issues with working conditions and factory safety.
Ms Lambert said: “London is the fashion capital of Europe but behind the colour and glamour there’s a darker side to the global industry – workers in appalling conditions struggling to make a living.
“The Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh was a terrible tragedy which left over a thousand dead and thousands more facing possible destitution. All the big name brands who were supplied by factories in that building have a responsibility to the families and survivors, who lost their livelihood as well as their loved ones.
“We must also make sure it can never happen again. As consumers we all have a role to play in thinking about where our clothes came from, and the real human cost of a cheap t-shirt.
“The tragic loss of life shows exactly why trade unions are important to protect the rights of workers. Many lives could have been saved that day if exits had not been locked or blocked – and the workers need to feel empowered to speak up.
“Our fashion industry has to clean up its act, and make sure they take responsibility for the working conditions of those who produce their goods.”
“The victims of this disaster must never be forgotten. We must work to ensure no-one endures such appalling conditions in future, and all workers have the right to make a decent living from their labour.”