May 2, 2013
On the eve of the Annual Meeting of Loblaw Companies Limited, 23 prominent Canadian trade unions, NGOs and faith organizations have sent an Open Letter to the company’s Executive Chairman, Galen Weston, calling on his company to take immediate steps to ensure that the deaths and injuries suffered by hundreds of garment workers in the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh are not repeated.
While recognizing Loblaw’s announcement that it will be providing compensation to the families of those who died in the tragedy as a positive step forward, the letter urges the company to “put that commitment into practice by negotiating with Bangladeshi trade union federations and IndustriALL (the Global Union for the manufacturing sector)… regarding the level, form and channels of compensation for both the families of those who died and the workers who suffered injuries and the loss of employment as a result of the building collapse.”
According to Lynda Yanz, Executive Director of the Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN), the letter demonstrates the high level of concern of Canadian civil society organizations from various sectors with the series of preventable tragedies in the Bangladeshi garment industry and their desire for sustainable solutions to the underlying problems that caused those tragedies.
“We are calling on Loblaw Companies Limited, as well as other companies sourcing clothes from Bangladesh that have so far remained silent, to work together with trade unions and labour rights groups to put in place a comprehensive, transparent and effective Fire and Building Safety Program in Bangladesh, one in which workers have an active and informed role.
“Workers lives should not be put at risk in order that we can buy cheap clothes,” says Yanz.