In a notable extension of supply chain accountability, the families of 1100 victims of the April 2013 Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh will benefit from an industry-supported $40 million compensation fund. In the wake of the worst garment factory disaster in history, four European and Canadian firms, spurred by the European Clean Clothes Campaign, will contribute to the trust fund, which will be administered by the International Labour Organization. The commitments of Bonmarche, El Corte Ingles, Loblaw, and Primark stand in contrast to the US retailers such as Wal-Mart and Children’s Place, which thus far have refused to participate in the fund in fear of liability exposure. While the fund represents a significant step toward victim compensation, it is also a reminder of fatal flaws in garment industry supply chains worldwide, the absence of enforceable international labor standards, and the relentless search by global brands for least cost labor production sites. Although the fund is a positive step for corporate accountability, reactive reparations for victims falls well short of proactive, preventative measures essential to long-term worker justice.
Bodes well for the future