If you are a sweat-shop worker connected by globalisation to the fashion markets of Europe, don’t expect decent wages. Don’t expect safe working conditions. Don’t expect compensation in case you are injured, and don’t tell your family you will be compensated should you die at your work place. That is probably the message that Jahangir Alam and Nura Alam are getting in their european tour of garment giants.

Spanish firm Inditex (owners of Zara fashion stores) calculates that 1.2 million Euros should make up the Trust Fund to compensate the injured garment workers and the families of workers who died at the Spectrum Sweater factory in Savar last April. (See my earlier post here). However it has been a long ten months and there has been precious little done to compensate those affected.

Inditex have atleast taken a lead but firms in Germany and elswhere apparently are not so forthcoming. According to Evelyn Bahn of the German chapter of Clean Clothes Campaign, companies benefting from the sweat-shop trade in garments are fearful of setting a precedent. They don’t want to have to pay out everytime an issue like this arises. And hence the lack of will to do something about the situation despite the passage of so many months and the continuing hardship of those affected. German firms have not yet made up their minds as to whether they will even take part in the Trust Fund. Some have raised issues of disbursement given corruption issues in Dhaka

Read this press release (pdf 350kb, german language) by Inkota (part of the NGO coaltion campaigning on behalf of the workers). See this report on Spiegel online.

Given the enormous profits made by the various retails giants and given the scale of the tragedy, it seems inappropriate to describe this as just “feet-dragging.” It is downright shameful.