Tuesday, September 16, 2014

OTTAWA ― Over fifty human rights, religious, international development, trade union, women’s, teacher, student, community and investor organizations have released an Open Letter calling on the Canadian government to publicly urge Canadian companies whose apparel products are made in Bangladesh to contribute generously to a trust fund for the approximately 2,500 workers injured and the families of over 1,100 workers killed in the Rana Plaza building collapse.

The Open Letter also requests that the Canadian government offer to match all corporate and other contributions to the Trust Fund, and to encourage the Bangladeshi government and industry association to increase their contributions and ensure their public accountability.

More than 16 months after the disaster, the Rana Plaza Donors Trust is about to distribute a first installment of compensation to some of the victims and survivors. Yet, only half the $40 million needed has been donated to the Fund to date.

“It is critical that sufficient funds are raised to compensate the workers and families whose lives have been forever damaged,” says Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Canada must step forward, starting with a call from the federal government to Canadian retailers sourcing from Bangladesh to contribute, and contribute generously to the Trust Fund.”

“If we fail to fill this funding gap today, many of the survivors that can no longer work and families of those killed at Rana Plaza could face a future of abject poverty, and the surviving children could be denied an education and forced to work under hazardous conditions,” says Lynda Yanz, Executive Director of the Maquila Solidarity Network.

To date only one Canadian company – Loblaw (Joe Fresh) – of the more than 130 that have apparel products made in Bangladesh has contributed to the Trust Fund, which is managed by the International Labour Organization (ILO).  In contrast, a number of US and European companies (and/or their foundations) that had no relationship to factories in the Rana Plaza building have contributed to the Trust Fund.

In June, seven European governments – the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and Denmark -- released a joint public statement calling on retailers and brands in their respective countries to donate generously to the Trust Fund, and urging the Bangladesh government and industry association to increase their contributions and ensure their public accountability.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 111 district labour councils

Web site: www.canadianlabour.ca
Follow us on Twitter @CanadianLabour
Contacts: Bob Jeffcott, Policy Analyst, Maquila Solidarity Network:
  Tel. 416-532-8584. bjeffcott@gmail.com
  Lucien Royer, International Director, Canadian Labour Congress:
  Tel. 613-526-7410. lroyer@clc-ctc.ca