The Rana Plaza disaster of 2013 continues to resonate for all of us, not least because for many people in Dhaka, the effects still fill their lives. Their loved ones are gone, found and buried or still missing, lost to the rubble. These people need our love and our support. But above all, they need the companies whose clothes their mothers, fathers, sons and daughters died to make to step up, take the blame and help to rebuild those shattered lives.
The UN's groundbreaking compensation and corporate responsibility scheme, set up for just this purpose, is doing its job well. But there's one holdout.
That company is Benetton. And the pressure is on them to do the right thing.
Let's consider just how remarkable the UN-sponsored Rana Plaza Agreement has been. Disasters like this one usually lead to multinationals simply denying their links and walking away. Here, that has not been the case. Images in the media of clothing labels scattered through the rubble make a clear case for responsibility, of course. The impetus has led to corporations, governments and factory owners to band together for the first time. But that accord is still delicately balanced, and one missing piece could send the whole structure crashing to the ground--a particularly jarring image given the context, but there you go.
Benetton have claimed that their responsibility towards the victims of Rana Plaza ended after they donated to a local charity. The amount and indeed the name of the charity remain undisclosed. This is simply not good enough, and voices are starting to be raised in attempt to get Benetton to show a little respect to the people whose lives they ruined.
With Milan Fashion Week approaching, Benetton are launching their spring collection with a heavy rollout on social media. This has not gone un-noticed. Social media activists Avaaz have set up a petition that already has over half a million signatures (including mine). If they double that, Avaaz promise that Benetton and Milan will see just how loud a million voices can be.
The petition is available below, and it's worth noting that Benetton are hiding comments on their Facebook page that they don't like. Which doesn't stop you posting something on your own wall, of course...
Sign the Avaaz petition urging Benetton to take full responsibility for its role in the Rana Plaza Disaster: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/benetton_pay_up_loc/?bZdIobb&v=53122