Protesters dressed as funeral-goers gathered outside Benetton and Mango’s central London stores this weekend, calling for compensation for the Rana Plaza victims.
Campaigners dressed in black clothes, holding flowers and candles while a coffin was carried outside the shops to highlight the huge death toll – which now stands at 1,127 people, mainly female garment workers – caused when the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed a month ago.
Groups such as War on Want, the South Asia Solidarity Group and Labour Behind the Label have called for both Benetton and Mango to offer full compensation to the victims after labels linking the retailers to the factory were found in the rubble.
Benetton, which had used the factory for two orders, the last of which was a month before the tragedy, has so far committed to offer assistance for artificial limbs and surgery, and is working on a programme “mainly focused on the families who have lost their only source of income due to this tragedy”.
At the time of the incident Mango insisted it had no “official suppliers” at the factory “although we had established contact with one of them in order to produce a sample order”.
Both have since signed the Fire and Building Safety Agreement.
But the protest groups - which have already targeted stores in Bristol, Bath and Cambridge - claim this is not enough.
Amirul Haque Amin, president of the National Garment Workers’ Federation, one of the largest garment workers’ trade unions in Bangladesh, said: “This disaster was a calamity waiting to happen because high street chains failed to ensure proper safety measures. Now we demand compensation.”
Ruth Fox, corporate power campaign coordinator at student campaign group People & Planet, described the retailers’ responses as “unacceptable”.
She added: “These companies make huge profits from operating in Bangladesh. Yet when a major disaster occurs, they turn a blind eye. We demand immediate compensation for the workers and families affected by the building’s collapse.”
“We are also calling for an independent factory monitoring system - accountable to workers, not big corporations - which will help to ensure terrible tragedies such as this never happen again.”