Benetton’s Rana Plaza compensation payment disappoints unions

Following news that Benetton will pay $1.1 million into the ILO-administered Rana Plaza compensation fund, UNI Global Union and IndustriALL Global Union – the two global unions campaigning for fair and just compensation on behalf of the victims – issued the following statement:

UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings said: “We are deeply disappointed with Benetton’s contribution. This is a token step and we appeal to them to do better. We will continue our efforts for Benetton to increase their contribution.

“They have been ill-advised by their hired consultants to take the low road. This is about people’s lives and is not a time for discount policies.

“Primark, who also sourced from Rana Plaza, has paid $7.3 million in compensation but Benetton fails to see the victims as people who need the compassion and care that their brand espouses.”

The two global unions are urging Benetton to make another larger contribution to the compensation fund.

IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina said: “Although every cent counts and brings us closer to providing a future for the victims, Benetton had the opportunity to take leadership for the sector and close the darkest chapter of its history for once and for all.

“The people who died in Rana Plaza were the people that made the United Colours of Benetton. We believe that a contribution of $5 million would show respect to the sacrifice that they made.”

Only after two years of campaigning by unions and NGOs, Benetton announced around a month ago that it would contribute to the compensation fund despite being directly linked to Rana Plaza. Benetton contracted PricewaterhouseCoopers to advise them on the amount the company should pay.

The two global unions were very surprised at the appointment given that PricewaterhouseCoopers has no noted experience in calculating compensation for industrial accidents in international supply chains. Furthermore, PricewaterhouseCoopers themselves asked for endorsement from WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production), which has a history of flawed factory inspections and failed to report structural issues at the Rana Plaza building itself before its collapse.

The news follows damning secret camera videos of Benetton  managers allegedly defending child labour, saying they only signed up because of public opinion and that they knew all along that they were producing in Rana Plaza despite initially denying it.

UNI Global Union and IndustriALL are the two global unions to have developed and signed the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza tragedy. The Bangladesh Accord has been signed by almost 200 global brands and around 1,500 factories and 2 million workers are covered by its scope.