On April 24, the Rana Plaza, an eight-story commercial building in Bangladesh housing clothing factories, collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people and injuring 1,900 others. Last week, global labour union IndustriALL organized a meeting in Geneva with the brands that used the complex in an effort to bring all parties to the table and work out long-term compensation for victims of the collapse.
The International Labour Organization was on hand at the meeting as a neutral mediator — but only one third of the brands showed up, and only one company, Primark, made a firm commitment on funding.
"Consumers will be shocked that almost a half year has passed since the Rana Plaza disaster with only one brand so far providing any compensation to the disaster's victims," IndustriALL assistant general secretary Monika Kemperle said in a statement. "I respect those brands that came to these meetings. But I cannot understand brands that are not around the table."
Canada's Loblaw was one of the other eight companies that attended the talks. In May, CEO Galen Weston committed his company to being "a force for good in Bangladesh," and called on the apparel industry to "come together" after the tragedy.
According to IndustriALL estimates, the total amount of compensation will be around $75 million, to be paid by a combination of retailers, the Dhaka government and factory owners. The plan for the meeting was to start discussions on how to divide those payments and start distributing money, TIME reports.
One company that was invited and did not attend, Benetton Group, released a statement from CEO Biagio Chiarolanza. He said the Geneva meeting lacked "clarity around the objectives," and that his company would focus on "working directly with those affected by the Rana Plaza disaster."
Primark, an Irish clothing retailer, has already made payments to over 3,000 Rana Plaza victims, and it pledged at the meeting to provide another three months salary to families of the victims. The other firms that attended the meeting agreed to further talks at a later date, BBC reports.