The TUC has criticised clothing firms for failing to pay into the fund established to support victims of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse following the emergence of a $6 million shortfall (£4 million).
The TUC has spoken out on the second anniversary of the disaster, in which 1,134 people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured on 24 April 2013.
General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It is shameful that two years after the Rana Plaza factory collapsed, some companies still have not donated adequately to the compensation fund.
“Workers and their families urgently need this money to pay medical fees and rebuild their lives after this horrific event. Companies have a moral obligation to put the livelihoods of those who make their clothes in Bangladesh first.”
So far a total of around $24 million (£16 million) has been donated to the compensation fund, established by parties including brands, retailers, the government of Bangladesh, trades unions and NGOs, and $9.85 million (£6.57 million) has been paid out to thousands of injured workers and dependants of deceased or missing workers.
The total amount necessary to deal with all claims has been revised downwards by the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee from $40 million (£26.7 million) to $30 million (£20 million), leaving the $6 million shortfall.
Verisk Maplecroft said Bangladesh’s labour rights protections remained “abysmal” and less then 10 per cent of more than 4,500 garment factories were estimated to have unions, while supply chains had suffered “serious disruptions” caused by political unrest.
Arvind Ramakrishnan, principal Asia analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, said: “The systemic harassment of workers and denial of freedom of association exposes workers to unsafe working conditions. Workers seldom have the authority or ability to challenge what they perceive as being forced to work in dangerous building structures or otherwise unsafe conditions except under the aegis of a union.
“With international attention on Bangladesh’s labour rights record seemingly fading, the government appears to be quietly returning to its policy imperative of sustaining the growth of the critical garments industry at the expense of basic labour rights protections.”