Canadian grocery chain Loblaw has announced that it will compensate the families of victims of the factory collapse that occurred this past May in Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza. The building housed a number of garment factories, including some that made garments for the Canadian retailer’s Joe Fresh line of clothing.
The building housed garment factories, including one that produced items for Joe Fresh, Loblaw’s low-cost fashion line. The plaza collapsed on April 24, killing 1,129.
The company said long-term, direct financial compensation will begin in 2014 for victims and their families who worked at New Wave Style, the factory within Rana Plaza contracted to produce Joe Fresh items.
Until then, Loblaw will be compensating victims and dependents with three months’ wages. It’s not known how much New Wave Style workers were paid, but the average monthly salary for garment workers in Bangladesh is $38.
Loblaw developed the compensation strategy with Primark, a British apparel company that also had apparel produced in Rana Plaza.
Although Loblaw has only committed to compensating those who produced Joe Fresh apparel for now, they may expand funding if other companies don’t step up.
“Loblaw joins Primark in encouraging all brands that have been involved in production at Rana Plaza to participate in the provision of compensation to the victims of this tragedy,” said a statement from the company.
“Should the other brands not step forward and join in this funding, we will join Primark and immediately contribute to the payment of three months wages for the approximately 3,600 individuals involved, regardless of the brand apparel that was being produced in their workplace.”
Joe Fresh faced backlash from customers in the wake of the collapse, including threats of a boycott. Loblaw still contracts Joe Fresh production to factories in Bangladesh, a country notorious for a flourishing garment industry rampant with low wages and unsafe working conditions.
Since the collapse, Loblaw said it has conducted audits of vendors that produce Joe Fresh and “removed from our approved list those factories who did not meet our new standards.” The company said its standards now include building integrity, an issue their audits did not address prior to the collapse.
Both Loblaw and Primark have also now signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, a five-year agreement between retailers, government and labour unions that enforces fire and safety standards.
Winnipeg fire expert Brad Loewen has been named chief safety inspector the Accord, reports Global News. He will head to Bangladesh in December.