Protest tells Benetton to pay up for Rana Plaza victims

Matthew Franklin reports on a protest that closed Benetton's flagship London store today

April 24, 2014 · 3 min read

Today, on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, the largest garment industry disaster in history, the doors of the flagship Benetton store on London’s Regent Street have remained shut. That’s not out of respect for the 1,134 workers who died in their Bangladeshi factory exactly a year ago, but because a handful of people have decided that they will not allow the store to turn a profit today, when they still have not paid any compensation to those affected.

Benetton’s excuse for not paying compensation is based upon the fact that they have given some money towards supporting a charity called BRAC, which amongst other things provides micro-loans for survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse. This does not constitute compensation. Many of the survivors and the families of those killed have received little or no support since the disaster, and some are struggling to provide basic necessities for their family on a reduced income.

At 9.30 this morning, shortly before the store was due to open its doors, a handful of people with bicycle D-locks attached themselves to the door and made sure that it could not be opened. I accompanied them to hand out leaflets and speak to people. Three hours later we were still there and the doors remained shut. The pavement outside the United Colors of Benetton’s flagship store has been turned into a memorial, with photos of victims and testimony from their family members and survivors. In the hustle of Oxford Circus hundreds of people pass by every hour asking about the demonstration, queuing to read the quotes and offering messages of support. One passer-by said ‘Benetton buy their clothes from Bangladesh, they need to take responsibility when people are hurt’. Others offered to buy us tea.

In Bangladesh today, relatives of those killed and the families of survivors have taken to the streets chanting ‘we want compensation!’ These actions are echoed around the world, with the Clean Clothes Campaign directing protests across Europe, and War on Want taking action with Labour Behind the Label today on Oxford Street. The hope is that these protests will put pressure on the brands including Benetton and Matalan who have so far refused to pay into the Rana Plaza Compensation fund.

In the words of Martha Jones, who D-locked herself to the doors: ‘People in Bangladesh are standing up and fighting for justice, it’s time people in the UK stand beside them and hit these brands at their most prized outlets’.

Tweet to show your support: .@benetton #payup for the victims of #RanaPlaza, it is long overdue!


Shukri Abdi and the urgent need for anti-racist education

The Shukri Abdi case is a painful reminder that UK schools are not safe for everyone. We need an explicitly anti-racist curriculum, argues Remi Joseph-Salisbury

Locked out during lockdown

Already dealing with the effects of the hostile environment in education, Sanaz Raji explains the new challenges facing international students during the pandemic

Should the left care about blockchain technology?

Despite its utopian promises of digital democracy, Thomas Redshaw argues socialists should be wary of embracing blockchain technology


Review – Regicide or Revolution? What petitioners wanted, September 1648 – February 1649 by Nora Carlin

Norah Carlin's analysis of the Levellers' petitions reaffirms the radical nature of the English revolution, argues John Rees.

50 years of gay liberation

Sam Stroud looks back at the UK’s first ever LGBTQ+ demonstration and explains its significance for liberation struggles today

Red Pepper interviews Momentum’s NCG

Join us on Friday 27 November from 5pm as we talk to Momentum NCG members Sonali Bhattacharyya and Deborah Hermanns about what's next for the left