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Many Bangladesh factory collapse victims still waiting on compensation

To date only one company, Primark, has provided financial support to survivors and has called on other brands to follow suit

Hundreds of protesters participated in the demonstration to demand compensation for the victims and injured of the Rana Plaza building that collapsed killing more than 1,000 people earlier this year.
Hundreds of protesters participated in the demonstration to demand compensation for the victims and injured of the Rana Plaza building that collapsed killing more than 1,000 people earlier this year.
Image: A.M. Ahad/AP/Press Association Images

A SURVEY OF nearly two-thirds of survivors from the  garment factory collapse in Rana Plaza in Bangladesh has found that many victims are still waiting on compensation.

The survey by ActionAid surveyed more than 2,297 people – both survivors and families of those who died in the eight-storey factory collapse on 24 April this year.

The survey found that 94 per cent reported they have not received any legal benefits from their employers since April, including sick pay or compensation.

Injury and death

Of those surveyed, 92 per cent of survivors have not gone back to work and of these 63 per cent said physical injury such as amputations, paralysis, severe pains in the head, leg and body have stopped them going back to work.

More than 92 per cent of survivors reported being deeply traumatised, with over half experiencing insomnia and trembling from loud sounds. Some said they were scared to walk into a building or an enclosed room.

Primark

To date only one company, Primark (trading in Ireland as Penneys), has provided financial support to survivors – giving three months’ salary of 15,000 Bangladeshi taka (€137.61) to 3,300 people.

The company provided food aid to some 1,300 families within a week of the building collapse.

In a statement today, Primark announced that it will take further “unilateral steps to deliver long-term compensation to victims, or their dependents of the disaster”.

ActionAid said they welcome today’s announcement that the brand will pay long-term compensation to the victims or their families. The Bangladesh government has given 2.2 million taka (€20, 279.56) to 777 people – around a third of the victims and their family members.

Factory workers

Farah Kabir, ActionAid’s Country Director in Bangladesh said:

It’s indefensible that for six months, multi-million dollar companies have left the victims to fend for themselves.

While corporations sit on their hands, the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster are in urgent need of medical and psychological support, as well as the financial means to feed and care for their families.

ActionAid is calling on companies negotiating the compensation package to deliver a fair deal for the survivors and families of the deceased.

Long-term compensation

Primark said in their statement that the company has now set a timetable for beginning long-term compensation payments to the 550 strong workforce or their dependents of New Wave Bottoms, the supplier that was housed in Rana Plaza and which was producing clothing for Primark at the time.

Primark said that other retail brands are considering whether to adopt this scheme as an industry-wide framework for delivering compensation, but said that it was taking too long, stating that because of this they would ”press ahead with the scheme in order to deliver compensation to New Wave Bottoms workers, and their dependents, in the New Year”.

They added that they were committing to a short-term financial payment also, that this will provide some relief while long-term compensation plans are finalised. The company has already made similar short-term payments, given the delay in reaching agreement on the long-term scheme.

Brands

Primark said it is calling on other brands involved in the Rana Plaza disaster to make a contribution by paying short-term aid to some 3,000 workers or their dependents who made clothes for their labels.

To date, they said, these workers have been supported by Primark, even though the workers involved did not make clothing for the company but for other brands.

In the meantime, Primark will guarantee a further 3 months salary to the 3,600 or so victims of Rana Plaza to alleviate their immediate hardship, many of whom worked in the supply chain of other brands.

They added:

The purpose of this payment would be to alleviate hardship while these brands continue to deliberate on long-term compensation.

However, if the other 27 brands who sourced in Rana Plaza fail to make this contribution, Primark is guaranteeing today that it will pay another three months wages to all the workers concerned.

ActionAid is also calling on companies to sign up to the Bangladesh Safety Accord, a five-year legally binding agreement between international labour organisations, non-governmental organisations and retailers to maintain minimum safety standards in the Bangladesh textile industry.

Column: The Bangladesh factory collapse shows us the deadly cost of cheap fashion>

Read: Primark pledges further funds for victims of Bangladesh factory collapse>

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