April 24, 2014 7:02 pm

On anniversary of Bangladesh factory collapse, protesters target Burnaby store

VANCOUVER – One year ago today a garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh, killing more than 1,100 workers and injuring about 2,500 others.

Many of those people remain either too traumatized or hurt to return to work.

In Bangladesh today, protesters gathered to mark the anniversary and to express their anger about a lack of progress in compensating the victims and their families.

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The tragedy pushed the issue of factory safety to the forefront. Many of the workers were paid low wages to make inexpensive clothing for big western retailers. Some of those companies have given money to the victims but critics say other retailers are still not doing their part.

A protest was held in Burnaby on Wednesday outside Metrotown Mall as part of an international movement called the ‘Pay Up Campaign’.

They were specifically targeting a store called ‘The Children’s Place’, which they say has not paid enough money to the families of the people killed and hurt in the factory collapse.

The group of about two dozen tried to hand the store manager a letter outlining their reason for protesting but the manager refused to take it.

The protesters say if you take into account the amount of clothing ‘The Children’s Place’ had at the factory when it collapsed, their contribution should be about $8 million US, but so far they have only paid about $450,000 US.

“There’s also an accord called the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh,” said Irene Lanzinger from the BC Federation of Labour. “And we want ‘The Children’s Place’, ‘Hudson’s Bay’, ‘Sears’, all Canadian retailers to sign that accord.”

“That accord would provide for inspections, it would provide for safe conditions in those companies, in those factories in Bangladesh. The workers have been part of crafting that accord and we want all Canadian retailers to sign that accord,” she added.

‘The Children’s Place’ does have a statement on their website which reads:

“The Children’s Place donation was made to the BRAC USA Bangladesh Humanitarian Fund. BRAC USA used the contributions it received from The Children’s Place and other retailers to make a grant of $2.2 million to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, which supports victims of the Rana Plaza disaster and their families, who are receiving payments.”

However, the protesters would like to see the company give more.


© Shaw Media, 2014

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