No deal on Bangladesh garment disaster damages

Why did brands miss Bangladesh talks? Emily Thomas reports.

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International clothing makers have failed to reach a deal on the creation of a compensation fund for victims of two Bangladeshi factory disasters.

Only a third of the retailers who used the factories turned up for a two-day meeting on the issue in Geneva.

Only Primark was reported as making a firm commitment on funding.

More than 1,200 Bangladeshis died in the two garment factory accidents. Trade unions say many of their families are now struggling to survive.

The talks in Geneva were called by the global trade union IndustriALL and chaired by the International Labour Organization.

The aim was to provide compensation to families of those who died in the Rana Plaza disaster in April, when the collapse of a factory building killed more than 1,100 people, and in the Tazreen factory fire in November 2012, which killed 112 workers.

Only nine of the brands being produced at the Rana Plaza were represented at the meeting, IndustriALL said in a statement.

Key absentees included Wal-Mart and Benetton, whose chief executive said many companies had stayed away because of a "lack of clarity" around the talks. Benetton would focus on "working directly with those affected by the Rana Plaza disaster", a statement said.

A Wal-Mart spokesman said the company was focused on investing in improving factory safety but did not comment on the issue of compensation, a Reuters report said.

IndustriALL is seeking to establish compensation funds of $74.6m (£47.2m) for the Rana Plaza workers and $6.4m for the Tazreen factory workers which would address loss of earnings, medical and funeral costs, and other expenses of victims and bereaved families.

Those firms present did agree to meet again for further talks on a co-ordinated compensation fund, the trade union said.

Primark pledged to provide another three months salary to families of Rana Plaza victims. C&A set out a "substantial compensation initiative" for the victims of the Tazreen factory fire, IndustriALL said.

The fact that only a handful of the companies invited turned up for the meeting reflects deep differences within the industry on how to compensate victims of garment factory disasters in countries like Bangladesh, says the BBC's Anbarasan Ethirajan.

Bangladesh's garments export industry is the second biggest in the world after China's.

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