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Bangladesh/Rana Plaza tragedy

European businesses need to finally live up to their responsibility, two years on


Today is the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh, which has been recognised as the most deadly textile factory accident, with over 1,110 fatalities. The tragedy was marked in the European Parliament this week, with an exhibition organised by Green MEP Jean Lambert. Next week, the European Parliament will debate the tragedy and adopt a resolution (1) on the ongoing efforts to deal with consequences, notably the difficulties to get support from the textile industry for a fund that was set up to assist the families of victims from the tragedy. Commenting on this, Jean Lambert said: "It is two years since this unprecedented tragedy and many actors in the textile industry are not living up to their responsibility.  The second anniversary of a disaster is less visible but is crucially important if we want to see if things are really changing after that first rush of activity to put things right. "It is unacceptable that the compensation fund for the victims' families is still so underfunded. It should not go unnoticed that a number of brands, linked to manufacturing at Rana Plaza itself, have not yet contributed to the fund or made the level of their contribution transparent. Paying into the fund means showing compassion, not admitting liability. Building owners and manufacturers bear the primary responsibility. "Beyond this, there are serious questions about how European clothing brands proactively ensure they are not supporting exploitation in developing countries and consumers also need to ask themselves questions. Brands need to pay fair prices, which must translate into fair pay for workers in the industry, not simply additional profit for the owners. Shoppers should also be prepared to pay fair prices and demand supply-chain responsibility. This is about transforming the sector for all workers, not creating niche products. That is why the Sustainability Compact between the EU and Bangladeshi Government, backed by the ILO, is so important." (1) The European Parliament debate will take place on Monday evening (27 April), with the resolution voted on Wednesday. A conference hosted by Jean Lambert this week can be viewed on demand at http://cdn.streamovations.be/events/150422_greens-remembering.php

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