Roughly two years following the now infamous Rana Plaza factory collapse, a fund established for victims and their families has finally been filled. The collapse claimed the lives of 1,129 garment workers in Bangladesh who were sewing apparel for brands like The Children’s Place, Walmart, and Zara. Hundreds of others lost limbs, suffered severe burns, and continue to battle PTSD.
Immediately following the Rana Plaza collapse in April 2013, brands refused to provide substantial compensation to those impacted by the tragedy. Some brands even tried to hid the fact that they were sourcing from the factory at the time of the collapse. In response, a global campaign was launched to hold brands accountable to filling a $30 million fund called the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund. Over the two years, workers and allies, including the Clean Clothes Campaign and the International Labor Rights Forum, organized public actions to demand brands pay into the fund.
In March 2015, after over a year of actions targeting the clothing brand, The Children’s Place, ten members of United Students Against Sweatshops, along with a Rana Plaza survivor, Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity Executive Director, Kalpona Akter, and members of Workers United, were arrested at The Children’s Place Headquarters in Secaucus, New Jersey while peacefully protesting. The brand suffered severe public scrutiny and not long after, The Children’s Place contributed $2 million into the workers’ fund – making them the third largest contributor the fund.
Although we are pleased to see this owed compensation finally being put in the hands of workers and their families, we know we still have a long way to go to ensure brands take fire safety seriously. We refuse to wait around for the next Rana Plaza, it’s time for VF/the North Face to sign the Accord.