25 Apr Protestors ask Walmart for more aid on anniversary of Bangladesh factory collapse
April 25–A year after Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed, killing more than 1,100 workers and injuring more than 2,000 in the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry, protesters gathered Thursday outside the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Lakeview to demand the world’s largest retailer commit more money to helping the survivors and victims’ families.
“Walmart has only given $1 million to the Rana Plana Trust Fund,” said Liana Foxvog, director of organizing and communications for the International Labor Rights Forum, a nonprofit advocacy group headquartered in Washington, D.C. “That is an inexcusably low contribution, which amounts to less than $500 per affected family.”
A fund called the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, managed by the International Labour Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, needs an estimated $40 million to cover the workers affected by the factory collapse. So far it has raised $16 million in voluntary donations.
Walmart says that while it “did not have any production at the Rana Plaza factory at the time of the tragedy,” to date it has committed $15 million, and spent $13 million, to improve factory safety in Bangladesh through inspections, safety training and support for victims’ families. That sum includes $3 million it has paid to a Bangladesh humanitarian relief fund led by BRAC, a global anti-povery organization, which has donated $2.2 million to the Donors Trust Fund and another $1.25 million to create job opportunities for 250 Rana Plaza garment workers.
Foxvog’s group is calling on Walmart to pay $16 million more into the Rana Plaza fund and $5 million to victims of the November 2012 fire at Bangladesh’s Tarzeen fashion factory, which killed more than 100 garment workers.
To date just half of the 29 brands connected to factories in the Rana Plaza complex have publicly made commitments to the Donor Trust Fund, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign, a garment labor group.