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Bangladesh: compensation meeting delayed

By FashionUnited


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Already months after two devastating garment industry accidents,

the injured workers and the families of the deceased of the Tazreen Fashions fire on 24th November 2012 and the Rana Plaza building collapse on 24th April 2013 will have to wait even longer for compensation. A crucial meeting between labour and worker rights groups, unions, brands and retailers, scheduled for 11th and 12th August, has been postponed to September as the IndustriALL Global Union informed on Friday.

“With the sudden illness of a key union official and a strike threat in Bangladesh, we feel that the meetings will be more fruitful at a later date. All major brands and signatories are invited and we are expecting a high level of attendance,” explained IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina in a statement.

Apart from the international brands and retailers that ordered from the export-oriented garment factories, the factory owners, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the government of Bangladesh will share the responsibility of compensating the victims.

In the fire at Tazreen Fashions, 117 workers lost their lives while more than 200 were injured; the death toll for the Rana Plaza building collapse climbed to 1,200 while the number of injured workers is estimated at 1,500. Thus, the compensation package that takes into account a worker’s loss of earnings, pain and suffering and medical costs, funeral costs and other family expenses will be about 5.7 million dollars for the victims of the Tazreen Fashions fire and 71 million dollars for the victims of the Rana Plaza building collapse according to estimates by IndustriALL.

Of this amount, about 45 percent will have to be borne by the apparel buyers according to Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium. The buyers’ share and the total compensation was calculated using a mechanism that was developed after the collapse of an apparel factory in Bangladesh in 2005.

Though some short-term support, food and medical aid has already been distributed, it can only be hoped that the long-term compensation arrives soon as many families, with their main bread earner(s) gone, are hard pressed to make ends meet. Other workers who have been lucky to survive are so traumatized by the experience that they are scared to take up a similar job again - and who could blame them. However, in a country that lives off garment exports that is easier said than done.

Hopefully, the meeting in September will indeed attract as many participants as planned because its location has been moved from Dhaka to Geneva. Though this may be more convenient for Europe-based buyers, it may not be for Bangladesh-based organisations. In addition, a meeting at the site of one of the worst industrial disasters would underscore the the urgency of quick action and direness of the situation.

“The compensation process has been woefully slow and it is finally moving forward and companies are beginning to pay. Pressure is mounting for those refusing to contribute,” agrees Nova.
bangladesh garment industry
Rana Plaza