Activists targeted retailers including Benetton and Mango over the weekend over their failure to compensate those affected by the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh.
The collapse of the Bangladeshi building, which housed five clothing factories that supplied western retailers, last month killed over 1,100 people.
Both labels’ clothing were found in the rubble of Rana Plaza. Although Benetton has offered to provide health assistance and financial support it has not planning to issue full compensation to the victims.
Campaigners gathered outside both retailers’ Oxford Street stores dressed in black clothes, holding flowers and candles, to commemorate workers killed in the disaster. A coffin was also carried as part of the demonstrations, which were organised by the students’ group People & Planet alongside War on Want, the South Asia Solidarity Group, Freedom Without Fear Platform, UK Feminista and Labour Behind the Label.
Ruth Fox, corporate power campaign co-ordinator at People & Planet, said: “More than a month after this tragic incident, Benetton and Mango still refuse to take responsibility for workers killed or injured while making their clothes. This is unacceptable.
“These companies make huge profits from operating in Bangladesh. Yet when a major disaster occurs, they turn a blind eye. We demand immediate compensation for the workers and families affected by the building’s collapse.”
Amirul Haque Amin, president of the National Garment Workers’ Federation, one of the largest garment workers’ trade unions in Bangladesh, said: “This disaster was a calamity waiting to happen because high street chains failed to ensure proper safety measures. Now we demand compensation.”
Benetton and Mango are amongst a raft of western retailers that have signed up to a new accord to improve on fire and building safety in Bangladesh.
However, Japanese fashion giant Fast Retailing, which owns Uniqlo, told the Wall Street Journal it will not sign the accord for now, but will instead ramp up its own inspections in the country. US giant Walmart has opted for a similar approach while fashion retailer Gap said it will not join the pact unless changes to the way conflicts are resolved in courts are made.