The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Paul Collins (+44) (0)20 7324 5054 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

Campaigners Demand Action Following Bangladesh Building Collapse

Primark, Matalan and Mango accused of neglect


As rescuers today dug for survivors after a high rise building in Bangladesh, including garment factories, collapsed killing at least 187 people, campaigners demanded immediate action so that major multinational buyers linked to the factories, such as Primark, Matalan and Mango, are held to account.

The demand came from the British charity War on Want and its partner in Bangladesh, the National Garment Workers' Federation, following initial evidence that the eight-story Rana Plaza block in Savar, 18 miles from the capital Dhaka, contained factories supplying British retailers like Primark, Matalan and Mango.

The charity and federation accused UK chains and Bangladeshi garment bosses of widespread neglect for failing to put in place proper measures to ensure safe working environments.

With more than 1,000 people injured, the organisations pressed for them to receive proper medical treatment, and urgent financial support for the workers and bereaved families. War on Want, together with the NGWF, are demanding compensation from the brands as redress for the loss of earnings facing the casualties and their families.

In addition, the charity and the federation called for an independent probe that will bring to justice those responsible for the alleged negligence.

Both groups joined international calls to demand all brands sourcing from Bangladesh sign the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Agreement to avoid future tragedies.

War on Want senior programmes officer, Laia Blanch, said: "Multinational corporations, factory owners and the Bangladeshi government have once again failed to ensure that the health and safety of garment workers are at the forefront of the country's main export sector.

"It is equally unacceptable that UK firms continue to make huge profits from garments produced under appalling health and safety conditions.

"The British government must act to ensure UK brands are held accountable for protecting workers overseas turning out clothes for our high street stores."

The NGWF president, Amirul Haque Amin, said: "This negligence must stop. The deaths of these workers could have been avoided if multinational corporations, governments and factory owners took workers' protection seriously.

"Instead, the victims' families must with live with the terrible consequences of this tragedy."

War on Want fights poverty in developing countries in partnership with people affected by globalization. We campaign for human rights and against the root causes of global poverty, inequality and injustice.