More than 50 Canadian organisations yesterday requested their government to put pressure on Canadian retailers, who buy garments from Bangladesh, to donate to the Rana Plaza trust fund soon.
In an open letter, the organisations also called upon the Canadian government to match all corporate and other contributions to the trust fund, and encourage the Bangladesh government and industry associations to increase their contributions.
More than 16 months into the Rana Plaza building collapse, the trust fund has received less than half of the $40 million needed.
"Canada must step forward, starting with a call from the federal government to Canadian retailers sourcing from Bangladesh, to contribute generously to the trust fund," said Hassan Yussuff, president of Canadian Labour Congress, in a statement.
Lynda Yanz, executive director of Maquila Solidarity Network, said: “If we fail to fill this funding gap today, many of the survivors that can no longer work and families of those killed at Rana Plaza could face a future of abject poverty, and the surviving children could be denied an education and forced to work under hazardous conditions.”
So far, only one Canadian company -- Loblaw (Joe Fresh) -- of more than 130 that have apparel products made in Bangladesh has contributed to the fund, which is managed by the International Labour Organisation.
In contrast, a number of US and European companies or their foundations that had no relations with factories in the Rana Plaza building have contributed to the fund.
In June, seven European governments -- the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Denmark -- released a joint public statement calling on retailers and brands in their respective countries to donate generously to the fund.
They also urged the Bangladesh government and industry associations to increase their contributions and ensure public accountability.
The trust fund awarded $1.37 million (around Tk 10.79 crore) last month to the first batch of 332 victims of the building collapse, said Srinivasa Reddy, country director of ILO in Bangladesh.
Earlier, in April, victims and the dependants of the deceased were given Tk 50,000 each to help them get by for now and open bank accounts, which exhausted $2 million from the $17.9 million fund collected so far.
The compensation process is being delayed for a failure of many retailers in contributing their committed amounts to the fund within the deadline of April 24, the first anniversary of the accident that claimed 1,138 lives and injured thousands.
A departed victim's family will receive Tk 29 lakh and a permanently disabled person Tk 42 lakh as compensation, according to an estimate by IndustriALL Global Union and ILO.