Primark's compensation pledge is a significant move

Laura Kuenssberg

Former Business Editor

A Primark label is seen in the garments left among the rubble in Savar, Bangladesh Credit: ITV News

In the last few minutes Primark has told ITV News that they will provide immediate financial assistance to the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster.

Last night we reported that victims had not yet seen any sign of support from any of the companies who used suppliers at the site of the factory collapse.

But Primark is now promising to pay short term financial assistance to victims and their families, crucially not just those who were working for their suppliers, but to those who were working for manufacturers who supplied all of the western brands, some twenty or so. What's more they have promised to do it within seven days.

As we reported last night, Primark said it was taking some time to work out a longer term compensation scheme.

Read: Garment factory workers' families wait for promised compensation

But now, perhaps after our report last night, they have decided to act immediately. Their full statement is below:

"First, Primark is to provide short term financial aid to all workers and/or their families and dependents in the building. This assistance will be offered for 6 weeks, and should ensure all workers and dependents, including those working in factories that supplied the other 20 or so international brands - are supported financially pending long-term support. Details of the delivery of this interim assistance will be resolved as a matter of urgency.

"These ex-gratia payments will be made without any deduction, clearly, to formal compensation that Primark will pay in due course to the employees of its supplier. We hope to start making these payments within seven days.

"Second, the company is continuing to work as fast as possible on an appropriate, long-term financial compensation package for the employees working in its supplier factory.

"A reliable list of those who worked in the factory that supplied Primark at the time of the building collapse is not yet available to the company. This is clearly needed before any long-term compensation can be paid.

"Also, long term support has to be delivered securely so that vulnerable recipients of it are protected and their interests are safeguarded. The company has engaged specialist advisors in this area to help it implement a suitable scheme. To this end the company is in discussion with officials from the ILO and other expert parties to ensure the right mechanism for the compensation is used. This is not a simple task, nor is it straightforward. But the company is pressing ahead with it as fast as possible.

"Third, the company continues with its food aid programme that is now providing food aid parcels to about 1,000 families a week. This is alleviating immediate hardship where possible. Finally, the company will provide more information on all these initiatives as soon as it can. A spokesman said:

“The company was the first brand to acknowledge that its suppliers were housed in the Rana Plaza complex. The company was the first brand to commit to paying compensation to workers and their dependents. And the company was the first UK brand to sign up to the Accord on building and fire safety.

"The company is now extending help to workers who made clothing for its competitors. And the company is working as fast as possible to devise a scheme to provide long-term, secure assistance to workers in its supplier factory. The company has consistently said it will meet its responsibilities in full in this matter.”

More: Primark to offer short term aid to all Dhaka victims

Peter McAllister, Director of the Ethical Trading Initiative, said:

Read: Many retailers not compensating Dhaka victims or their families