Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza Victims Are Closer to Getting Some Compensation

Five clothing companies, including global giants Zara and Mango, contribute to trust fund

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Munir Uz Zaman / AFP / Getty Images

Moriyum, a survivor of Rana Plaza garment-factory-building collapse, join a demonstration on the outskirts of Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, on Nov. 24, 2013

Victims of the Rana Plaza factory disaster in Bangladesh came one step closer to being compensated for their suffering Sunday, with five global clothing companies becoming the first to contribute to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund.

The fund aims to cover lost wages, medical bills and other costs for the around 4,000 workers still affected by the disaster at Rana Plaza — a factory building in the suburbs of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, that collapsed last April, killing 1,129 garment workers.

Negotiations until now have been stalled around the issue of culpability, which is why donations to the fund are voluntary. It is unknown what amount donors have pledged, but it is reportedly far below the $40 million target.

The five contributors to the fund are European department-store group El Corte Inglés, Inditex (owners of the Zara brand), Canadian retailer Loblaw, global fashion chain Mango and Danish work-wear company Mascot.

Primark, a U.K. retailer that has already spent $3 million on short-term assistance, has signaled its intent to take part in the initiative, as has its British rival Bonmarché.

On Monday, labor groups are expected to urge other companies that manufactured clothing at Rana Plaza, like Walmart and Benetton, to pitch in.

Ineke Zeldenrust, international coordinator at European antisweatshop group Clean Clothes Campaign, said that the group would also seek assistance from brands without links to the tragedy.

“It’s a $48 billion industry worldwide,” she told the New York Times. “This is nothing.”