People wear funeral shrouds and lie on the ground in Paris yesterday as they take part in a protest marking the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh. Photo: AFP
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world yesterday mourned the garment workers who died in the Rana Plaza disaster one year ago.
They also called upon retailers to be more transparent about their supply chains and compensate the victims and their families.
In Paris, people wore funeral shrouds and held placards reading the names, age and profession of the victims as they took part in a protest marking the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse, reported AFP.
In London, activists protested outside Gap's flagship High Street branch in Kensington over its refusal to join companies that have signed a legally binding Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety, following the disaster which killed 1,135, mostly garment workers.
The protesters included comedian and writer Mark Thomas, representatives from the charity War on Want, and Tansy E Hoskins, the journalist who has written the new book Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion.
Nadia Idle, a campaigner of London-based rights organisation War on Want, demonstrated outside Gap's store in Kensington with a placard that says "Warning: Lethal Working Conditions.
At lunchtime in London, activists, including fashion designer Katherine Hamnett, formed a human chain outside Gap's flagship Oxford Street branch, according to War on Want. Gap is one of the largest buyers of clothing items from Bangladesh.
At Paddington in Central London, a Benetton store was closed after a protest in front of the store, according to a photo uploaded by Hannah Vickers on her Tweeter account.
A world premiere screening of 'Tears in the Fabric', a film by the Rainbow Collective and supported by War on Want, was to be held in the evening in Tuke Hall at Regents University, according to the website of War on Want.
Several labour groups, including the AFL-CIO, International Labour Rights Forum and United Students Against Sweatshops, were to gather outside the Children's Place, an American retailer, in Columbia Heights in Washington at 5:30pm.
Global labour and rights groups marked the day by criticising the western retailers linked to the disaster, which include Spanish brand Mango, Italian brand Benetton and French retailer Auchan. Alongside forming a human chain on Oxford Street, the Unison union called on members to observe a minute's silence at 11.38am, while ethical fashion industry players are backing a Fashion Revolution Day.
Campaigners believe the international response to the incident has been underwhelming, with a compensation fund for victims of the disaster remaining less than half full.
Of the 29 western brands who sourced clothes from Rana Plaza factories, about half have deposited $15 million into the Rana Plaza Trust Fund against the targeted $40 million despite efforts of the International Labour Organisation, the Clean Clothes Campaign said.
"We urge all the brands that have been working in Bangladesh to contribute to the fund with a considerable sum. They share a collective responsibility for this profoundly unsustainable production model and its hazards, this model that we are now about to change," said Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL.
UK International Development Minister Alan Duncan has called on British businesses to act as a "force for good" in Bangladesh.
He said: "One year on, we all need to ask ourselves if we are doing everything we can, and this includes British businesses."
"They have the power to bring about profound and positive change, whether by paying into the compensation fund or making their supply chain even more transparent," a Guardian article quoted the minister as saying.