Bangladesh guardedly welcomes Benetton's $1.1 million pledge for 2013 factory disaster victims

DHAKA, Bangladesh – A Bangladeshi garment industry leader on Saturday guardedly welcomed Italian retailer Benetton’s pledge of more than $1 million to victims of a factory collapse that killed over 1,100 people two years ago, saying it had come late but was appreciated.

Shahidullah Azim, a vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said the pledge would help the U.N.-sponsored compensation fund reach its commitment to provide $30 million to the survivors of the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex — Bangladesh’s worst industrial disaster.

“It has come late, but we appreciate it,” Azim said. “It will help us fulfil our commitment to the victims.”

The Benetton Group announced Friday that it would provide $1.1 million for compensation to the survivors of the collapse. The retail giant was among 29 brands that were connected to the factories housed at the complex.

Rana Plaza, an illegally built, multistoried building located outside of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, housed five garment factories when it collapsed on April 24, 2013, killing 1,127 people and injuring around 2,500.

Azim said the Rana Plaza Trust Fund, headed by the U.N.’s labour agency, had already distributed $23 million to victims of the disaster.

“Benetton’s contribution is part of it, and I am sure some other companies will also fulfil their commitment to the fund to reach the target of $30 million,” he said.

Bangladesh has 5,000 garment factories and 4 million garment workers, mostly women. The country earns more than $20 billion a year from exports of its garment products, mainly to the United States and Europe.