$50 million compensation fund created for Bangladesh garment workers

$50 million compensation fund created for Bangladesh garment workers
Cranes work to clear the rubble following the April 24 collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka.

DHAKA- Four global retailers, along with manufacturers and labour groups, have agreed to set up a US$40 million (S$50 million) compensation fund for victims of Bangladesh's Rana Plaza disaster that killed 1,135 people, officials Tuesday.

They said retailers Primark, El Corte Ingles, Loblaw and Bon Marche have pledged to contribute to the fund following the collapse of the garment factory complex in April, the world's worst industrial tragedy.

"A fund has been established to compensate the victims, injured workers and dependants of the deceased, of the Rana Plaza collapse," said Lejo Sibbel from the International Labour Organisation which helped broker the agreement reached last month.

"An estimated UD$40 million (S$50 million) will be required to compensate the victims and their beneficiaries," said Sibbel, who is based in Dhaka.

"To finance the payments to victims, international brands and retailers are making voluntary contributions into the fund, which is also open to contributions from any other international donors," he told AFP.

The agreement comes after talks between owners of clothing brands and pressure groups on a compensation deal ended in failure in Geneva in September.

The collapse of the nine-storey complex on the outskirts of Dhaka,where workers stitched clothes for top Western retailers, highlighted the often appalling conditions and lack of rights for workers at Bangladesh's 4,500 garment factories.

The country is the world's second largest garment exporter and the industry is a mainstay of its economy.

More than 100 European and US retailers pledged to improve safety in the wake of the tragedy, but a deal on compensation for families of workers and those injured has remained elusive.

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