Garment factory owners are trying hard to slash the compensation money for the families of the Rana Plaza victims far below the amount proposed by a high-powered committee appointed by the High Court just after the disaster that left at least 1135 dead and thousands more critically wounded, some of whom are permanently disabled. This committee later formed two sub-committees to fix the compensation rates and categories of the injured.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) representatives, on 07 November 2013, proposed BDT0.7 million for each of the dead victims families to be fixed while the committee recommended BDT1.95 million.
On 21 November 2013, the members of the committee sat again when the BGMEA placed its proposal to slash down the the compensation amount to BDT0.7 million for family of each deceased and BDT0.1 million for each injured worker. The BGMEA in its proposal said compensation should be fixed according to the labor law and owners capability and reality of the situation must also be brought into consideration.
“It would be impossible for many of the owners to give such a huge amount and it will discourage the entrepreneurs,” said the representatives of the BGMEA in an effort to justify their proposal.
According to sections of 19 and 151 of the labor law 2006 (amendment 2013), the owner will give Tk 0.1 million as compensation to each of the deceased families, TK 0.125 million for the permanently disabled worker or each of the workers who lost one limb. All this, if the owner of Rana Plaza is responsible for the collapse for violating the construction law and using low quality construction materials..
“Though the accident did not occur due to the garment factory owner’s negligence, illegal activities or any other fault, they are not legally bound to compensate more than fixed by the labor law,” claimed the BGMEA representatives in their comment regarding their proposal to cut off the compensation money by a huge margin.
“The BGMEA proposal is yet to be accepted and will be discussed in the next meeting,” M M Akash, Professor of Economics in the Dhaka University and head of the sub-committee of the Committee created by the High Court for this purpose. He also informs that there is a possibility that the compensation amount will be finalized in their next meeting which is also due in November this year..
The sub-committee recommended BDT1.95million for each dead and missing worker and BDT1.95 million compensation for each of the permanently injured workers. Moreover, BDT1.0 million compensation has been recommended for each of the workers, who lost one limb in the building collapse and the BDT0.6 million as treatment cost for each of the injured workers.
Apart from this, those higher up in the chain, i.e. the buyers/fashion brands did not yet to compensate the Rana Plaza victims, with the only exception of Primark who have given an initial support of BDT15000 twice through the reliable method of bKash to all the victims of Rana Plaza (those making cloths for them, and those who were not). The other brands, rich enough of course, are yet to acknowledge their responsibility to urgently aide the thousands who have earned them billions of dollars. These are the very same brands to meet whose deadlines these workers risked their lives to go into a crumbling structure – forced by the factory owners who were in turn forced by these very brands – most of whom are now probably poised to make as much money as possible through the Christmas festival which ideally celebrates the spirit of life and peace and love.
The orphans created by Rana Plaza are going to lay in a bitter winter without their parents around them. Alone many families now will have to spend a winter without their loved one, or the only breadwinner of the family. THIS WINTER CANNOT BE ENTIRELY FESTIVE FOR THE FASHION INDUSTRY THIS SEASON. ITS A CHILLING DISPLAY OF IGNORANCE, A DELAY WITHOUT A DEADLINE.