·  media release

Steelworkers Humanity Fund Contributes $20,000 to Rana Plaza Families

TORONTO – The Steelworkers Humanity Fund is contributing $20,000 toward compensation for victims and families affected by the 2013 Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh.

"In announcing this contribution to the Rana Plaza Trust Fund, we are calling once again on retailers and clothing brands to fulfill their obligations to compensate victims and families," said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director.

"North American retailers and international clothing brands have collectively failed to provide the full US $40 million that is needed to compensate eligible claimants," Neumann said.

"To date US $22 million has been collected. Loblaw (owner of Joe Fresh) continues to be the only Canadian company that has publicly declared its contribution to the trust fund," he noted.

The Rana Plaza collapse killed more than 1,100 workers and injured 2,500 others.

On September 15, the Canadian Labour Congress and the Maquila Solidarity Network released an open letter calling on the Canadian government to publicly urge all Canadian companies that have apparel products made in Bangladesh to contribute generously to the Rana Plaza Trust Fund.

The letter, signed by 55 prominent Canadian organizations including the USW, calls for companies to contribute to the fund irrespective of any direct links to Rana Plaza factories. So far the response has not been positive.

"We urge all Canadian retailers that source from Bangladesh to contribute to the trust fund. And we encourage Canadian shoppers to make it known that they expect Canadian companies to do their part to address systemic health and safety failures in Bangladesh," said Neumann.

Neumann travelled to Bangladesh earlier this year to visit the Rana Plaza site and meet with worker advocates and victims' families.

The Steelworkers Humanity Fund is a registered charitable organization that focuses primarily on development projects and emergency aid in developing countries, but also supports Canadian communities in crisis. Steelworkers union members contribute to the fund through clauses negotiated into collective agreements. In some cases, matching contributions come from employers.

The $20,000 contribution announced today enhances a commitment originally made in 2013.

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For further Information:
Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Doug Olthuis, Steelworkers Humanity Fund, 416-544-5957, dolthuis@usw.ca
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5996, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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