Cdn unions blast clothiers over factory collapse funding shortfall

People rescue garment workers trapped under rubble at the Rana Plaza building after it collapsed,...

People rescue garment workers trapped under rubble at the Rana Plaza building after it collapsed, in Savar, 30 km (19 miles) outside Dhaka in this April 24, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj/Files

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, Last Updated: 2:48 PM ET

Canadian unions called out The Children's Place, Benetton Group and other clothiers for allegedly paying too little into the fund for the families of the 1,138 Bangladeshi garment workers killed and the thousands injured in the factory collapse there nearly two years ago.

The recipients have only received 70% of the payout promised to them because of a US$8.5-million shortfall, officials from The United Steelworkers and the Canadian Labour Congress said Friday morning.

"It's absolutely shameful that profitable clothing brands like The Children's Place can turn their backs on the families. I've met some of those who were injured in the Rana Plaza collapse and it is impossible to ignore their pain and suffering," Ken Neumann, national director of the United Steelworkers, said in a press release.

"Two years later, and voluntary compliance still doesn't work. It's time to pay up," he said.

The Children's Place, one of more than a dozen retailers with stores in Canada that had some of its clothing made at the factory, has paid $450,000. But union leaders want the children's clothing giant to increase its contribution to $8 million.

The Canadian unions join IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union and the Clean Clothes Campaign in urging clothing companies to help cover the shortfall.

The Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund has raised US$21.5 million of its US$30-million goal.

Italy-based Benetton Group, operator of United Colours of Benetton, said in a statement Friday it has committed US$1.6 million to the trust fund.

"Benetton has a proud history of social commitment. We believe that by working closely with the right suppliers we can help to improve factory conditions for workers in Bangladesh and in many other parts of the world," CEO Marco Airoldi said in a release.

The Children's Place hasn't responded to a request for comment.

 


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