LONDON – Workers who are injured in garment factory disasters should not have to depend on charity to compensate them, claims a new report. The report says that five years after the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh which killed 1,134 people, the right to compensation for death and injury is still reliant on voluntary donations in many garment production countries.
Published by the University of Sussex, ‘Workers’ Right to Compensation after Garment Factory Disasters: Making Rights a Reality’ calls for changes to secure compensation of workers as a “right, rather than as a form of charity.”
Commissioned by the C&A Foundation and written by worker health and safety expert Dr Rebecca Prentice, the report draws lessons from schemes to pay compensation to injured workers and dependents of those killed in the recent Ali Enterprises, Tazreen and Rana Plaza garment factory disasters. It calls for the introduction and strengthening of national employment injury insurance schemes which are said to be lacking in many garment-producing countries.
The report also develops practical recommendations to ensure workers’ right to compensation is met in a fair, timely and consistent way across the global garment industry.
Dr Rebecca Prentice says: “Compensation for occupational injury or death is an important labour right, but it is too often denied to the survivors of garment factory disasters. This report calls for national employment injury insurance in garment-producing countries, giving practical recommendations for industry, government, and labour rights advocates. When these efforts fail, workers suffer. Therefore, global apparel companies must work now with industry stakeholders to develop and fund fair and systematic compensation schemes for workers and their dependents.”
Dr Mojtaba Kazazi, the executive commissioner for Rana Plaza and Tazreen compensation schemes said: “This report distils the material issues from three vast and complex compensation programmes, providing a template for possible future use in similar situations. I commend the report’s positive tone and approach and agree with its conclusions.”
Likewise, Ben Vanpeperstraete, lobby and advocacy coordinator of the Clean Clothes Campaign added: “This report clearly shows how a new model to ensure the right to payment for loss of income to workers after supply chain incidents is emerging. It highlights the need to gather all stakeholders to define proper remedy solutions, and specifically the role of brands to ensure financing.
“At the same time, it shows how individual schemes can, and should, lead to more structural national employment injury insurance in garment producing countries, which would also cover less widely reported cases. In the last five years many Bangladeshi workers have fallen through the cracks of the system – a bridging solution is needed to fill the gap between these individual cases and the start of a national scheme.”