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European companies must be held to account for role in deadly global garment industry

Ahead of a vote today on a joint EP resolution to mark the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, GUE/NGL has called for Trade Commissioner Malmström to publicly shame those companies who have yet to pay compensation to victims of the factory disaster.

Dutch MEP Anne-Marie Mineur said: “Over 1100 people were killed and more than 2500 people were injured when the Rana Plaza building collapsed – this was the most serious industrial disaster of recent times.

“But while companies continue to use such factories, most of the people who were injured and their relatives have not yet received any compensation. Trade Commissioner Malmström must talk to these companies who have not yet paid up and name and shame them publicly. These companies cannot get away with this, they've had enough time.”

Mineur also stressed the importance of strengthening trade unionism in Bangladesh. She said: “Workers in Bangladesh need to be in a position to join trade unions. Without trade union protection employers will continue to put workers under pressure by forcing them to work in dangerous buildings.”

German MEP Helmut Scholz commented: “Although the minimum wage in Bangladesh was increased to 62 euros for a 60 hour week this remains insufficient in a country where the minimum living wage is 104 euros. We call on the Commission to take action to ensure that European companies start paying fair wages for their contracts.

“With the little progress that has been made in Bangladesh, the worst exploiters among the supplier companies have now escaped into neighboring countries. The Commission must extend the Sustainability Compact to the entire region and ensure it contains binding elements. This regional competition for the lowest wages and worst production conditions must end. This means we must make decent work a pre-condition to an agreement with Vietnam and that Cambodia's tariff-free trade preferences for everything but arms must be suspended if workers in the garment sector there continue to be exploited.”

Spanish MEP Lola Sánchez Caldentey added: “We need a trade policy that protects human dignity. We need a proper binding regulatory framework based on human rights which guarantees that products sold on European markets do not violate dignity and the rights of individuals.”

GUE/NGL Press Contacts:
Emily Macintosh +32 470 85 05 08
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
European United Left / Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group