Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Primark offers fire compensation

Primark has offered to compensate workers or relatives of those who died in the Bangladesh factory fire disaster.

Clothes chain Primark has offered to compensate workers or relatives of those who died in a factory fire disaster in Bangladesh.

Some 1,129 workers were killed and about 2,500 injured six months ago when the blaze tore through the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka.

The factory was supplying high street brands around the world.

The company, owned by Associated British Foods, has offered to pay long-term compensation to the victims of the disaster or their families.

Some 550 workers at the New Wave Bottoms supplier, which was making clothes for Primark, will a be given a third payment, believed to be three months wages, while the long term compensation is finalised.

The minimum wage in the country is £24 a month and Primark said this offer would "alleviate immediate hardship".

As part of the longer term deal workers will get medical and vulnerability assessments by experts at Dhaka University, independent doctors, unions and non-governmental organisations.

Primark will begin paying compensation early next year.

"The company calls on other brands sourcing from Rana Plaza to now contribute a fair share of this tranche of aid," a spokesman said.

The announcement coincides with a candlelit vigil at the factory site by injured workers and relatives of the dead and global unions IndustriALL and UNI which are fighting to force safe standards in the business.

Last month, IndustriALL called a meeting of some of the world's largest retailers in Geneva to discuss a £47.2m compensation fund for the workers injured in the disaster, and the families of those who died.

Only nine brands using clothes from the factory turned up.

Primark, which is headquartered in Dublin and trades under the Penneys banner in Ireland, had a supplier on the eighth floor of the building.

It was one of 28 brands being supplied from the factory. Other companies are said to be considering whether to follow the proposal.

Primark said it was pressing ahead with its compensation scheme because of the time it is taking to reach agreement.

It also committed to paying another three months wages to all workers or their families if the other 27 brands which used the Rana Plaza refuse to support their compensation scheme.

Primark also sent food aid to 1,300 families within a week of the building collapse.

Campaigners have been pressing the Bangladeshi government to increase the minimum wage and improve working conditions in the country's garment industry in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster.

Primark said it has spent £1.5 million compensating workers and their families to date.

A spokeswoman said future long-term compensation payments will be based on an individual's needs.

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