Government urged to support Bangladesh trust fund

Factory collapse killed more than 1,100 people

TORONTO (Reuters) — A group of more than 50 Canadian organizations, including labour unions, are urging the Canadian government to ask domestic companies to give to a trust fund for the survivors of a disastrous garment factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 people nearly a year and a half ago.

As of Sept. 1, a fund set up for more than 2,500 injured workers and families of the dead has raised less than half its $40-million target, according to the Maquila Solidarity Network, a labour and women's rights group that helped organize the effort.

Organizers are making the renewed push as the first installment of the compensation will be distributed this month and early next month.

The group also wants the government to match contributions to the fund by Canadian companies and organizations, it said in an open letter to Canada's ministers of international trade and international development.

Loblaw Co Ltd, whose apparel brand "Joe Fresh" had clothing made in the plaza, is the only Canadian company that has contributed to the trust fund, organizers said, noting that a number of U.S. and European companies with no ties to the Rana Plaza building have given to the fund.

In the past, some of the brands supplied by the factory complex said they would not contribute as their production was outsourced to the factory without their knowledge, or ended some time ago, while others preferred to pursue their own compensation plans.

Ultra-low wages and trade deals have made Bangladesh's garments sector a $22-billion industry that accounts for four-fifths of the country's exports.

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