You may recall my article earlier about the ferocious blaze at clothing factory in Bangladesh, India that killed many workers due to ineffective, or non-existent fire protection systems.
One of the Western businesses that were supplied by that factory, a company called Primark in the UK, has announced that it will compensate the victims by providing $1 million in aid.
Primark’s owner, Associated British Foods said that “It is the right thing to do…there is obviously real hardship….(which) will take a period of time to deal with….meantime, some of these people are suffering real hardship.” Well, they would, wouldn’t they, if they’d lost the only breadwinner in the family…
But Daniel Randall, who works with the NO Sweat campaign against sweatshops in the developing world, said the offer was certainly better than nothing, but Primark still had a long way to go. “The fundamental thing we want is for companies to recognise independent trade unions….(otherwise) it’s only going to be so many words on a piece of paper”, he said.
Daniel pointed out the refusal of Walmart and Gap, two of the world’s foremost trading giants who source their products from the third world, to sign an accord on fire and safety in Bangladesh….the agreement was drawn up by unions with the support of three dozen retailers. “The very fact that they have refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the accord, illustrates a contempt for workers…”, he reiterated.
AB Foods, the owners of Primark, made $620 million profit in the first half of this year.