Major U.S. retailers including Walmart and Sears have declined to contribute to any compensation funds that would help the families of the more than 1,200 people who died while making their products in Bangladesh last year.
One year after the Tazreen factory fire in Bangladesh, many retailers that sold garments produced there or inside the Rana Plaza building that collapsed last spring are refusing to join an effort to compensate the families of the more than 1,200 workers who died in those disasters.
The International Labor Organization is working with Bangladeshi officials, labor groups and several retailers to create ambitious compensation funds to assist not just the families of the dead, but also more than 1,800 workers who were injured, some of them still hospitalized.
A handful of retailers — led by Primark, an Anglo-Irish company, and C&A, a Dutch-German company — are deeply involved in getting long-term compensation funds off the ground, one for Rana Plaza’s victims and one for the victims of the Tazreen fire, which killed 112 workers last Nov. 24.
But to the dismay of those pushing to create the compensation funds, neither Walmart, Sears, Children’s Place nor any of the other American companies that were selling goods produced at Tazreen or Rana Plaza have agreed to contribute to the efforts.
Supporters of compensation plans say they are needed to pay for medical care for those who are paralyzed or otherwise badly injured, to provide income after a vital breadwinner died and to give families enough income so that children are not forced to quit school and go to work.
Primark, an Anglo-Irish company, and C&A, a Dutch-German company — are deeply involved in getting long-term compensation funds off the ground.
Paul Lister, Primark’s general counsel, said that from the day Rana Plaza collapsed, his company recognized its responsibility.
“We knew we were having clothes made in Rana Plaza — we announced that on the first day,” Mr. Lister said about the April 24 building collapse, which killed 1,129 workers. “When you know where your clothes are made, then you take responsibility for the results of where your clothes are being made. We have said very clearly that we would work to support the workers — and the families of the workers — in our supply chain.”