U.S. Reps. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Sander Levin (D-Mich.) issued the following joint statement today marking the six-month anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy where more than 1,100 garment workers in Bangladesh died and 2,500 injured after the building housing several garment factories collapsed. The International Labor Rights Forum and the Clean Clothes Campaign also issued a report today highlighting significant problems in compensating the families of the victims and those who were injured in the building collapse six months ago.
"Six months after the Rana Plaza collapse and nearly a year after the Tazreen disaster, survivors who were maimed and permanently disabled, and the relatives of the deceased, are still struggling to get the compensation that they have been promised, according to a new report out today from the International Labor Rights Forum and the Clean Clothes Campaign. We find this deeply disturbing. We both visited with a number of the victims from both tragedies when we were in Bangladesh earlier this year. Because of the nature of their injuries, most of these individuals will never be able to provide for themselves or their families again. We also met with families of the deceased in equally dire straits. Orphaned children must be cared for properly. And systems need to be established to help the survivors of the deceased whose remains were never identified.
"All of the retailers and brands who sourced from these factories should shoulder their fair share of the compensation effort for Rana Plaza and Tazreen now being led by a number of brands. We are troubled that a number of brands and retailers, including U.S. companies like Wal-Mart, Sears, Children's Place and Cato Fashions, have yet to participate in either fund, according to the report. The injured and survivors need and deserve a remedy for the trauma they have suffered in these deadly disasters.
"This report shows that there is more work to be done by the government of Bangladesh, and Western retailers and brands to take responsibility for these horrific conditions, which they helped to create. To prevent these disasters from recurring, we reiterate our call for retailers and brands sourcing in Bangladesh to join the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, and take note that this binding safety initiative, which is jointly governed by retailers and unions, now covers approximately 1,750 factories that employ half of the garment workers in Bangladesh. Moreover, much more needs to be done to address the root of the problem -- to ensure that workers have their basic rights to organize and bargain; a real voice with which to refuse to work in fundamentally unsafe conditions."