2nd Year of Rana Plaza Tragedy
Status of Rana Plaza Victims: Compensation and Rehabilitation
“I do not understand why compensation amount differs from one victim to another and why was I paid less compensation than someone else who was not injured as seriously as I am. I know another worker who was not present on that tragic day but has received money” said Mr. Shafiqul Islam, Member of the Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions Accidents Victims Rights Network while he showed his right hand which was permanently disabled during the fire in addition to describing other severe injuries on his body.
On the occasion of the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy, Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE) organized a National Round Table on Status of Rana Plaza Victims: Compensation and Rehabilitation on 22 April 2015 as a part of its ongoing action towards ensuring social protection for the workplace accident victims and affected families.
The objectives of the roundtable were to share information and experiences on the compensation and rehabilitation process; to review the measures taken at national level on the safety in workplaces and to undertake unified initiatives for concerned stakeholders.
Mr. Kazi Reazul Hoque, Full Time Member, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was present as the chief guest who stated that the Rana Plaza was a man-made disaster and compared the working conditions in the factories in Bangladesh to be similar to those of prisons. He said that even though the garment sector contributes the maximum to the GDP of the country and employs a large workforce of women, the working conditions are deplorable and needs to be improved urgently. He added that the money which the workers have received is neither compensation nor donation; it is right of workers and what is due to them.
President of National Coordination Committee for Workers' Education (NCCWE), Mr. Abdul Mukit Khan, Mr. Kazi Saifuddin Ahmed, Labour Adviser of Bangladesh Employers Federation, Omana George, Asia Monitor Resource Centre, Hong Kong and Mohit Gupta Coordinator Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims joined as special guests and supported the demands for just, fair and immediate compensation, free and timely medical treatment, rehabilitation, alternate employment and education for the children.
Members of the Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions Accidents Victims Rights Network were present in large numbers at the meeting and narrated their experiences regarding the tragedy and the compensation process. Mrs. Rubi, urged the government and concerned stakeholders to mark 24 April as National Workers Mourning Day and establish a permanent monument at Rana Plaza Site.
An OSHE campaign video on RMG’s Present situation “RMG Growth with Tears” was also screened. Mr. Taherul Islam Taher, Program officer OSHE made a presentation on the status of Rana Plaza Victims: Compensation and Rehabilitation. He said that “more than 1500 children have lost either one or both of their parents in the tragedy, 98 workers are still unidentified”. He urged the government to speed up the process of compensation and rehabilitation and ensure that the factories in Bangladesh follow all labour regulations.
On April 24,2015 a human chain was organized at the site of the tragedy in Savar in which more than more than 100 members of the victim’s network participated. A wreath was placed at the temporary memorial at the site. The network members are demanding that brands and retailers should pay for compensation urgently and immediately, ensure workplace safety, free treatment facilities (both long and short term), rehabilitate the survivors and provide them alternate jobs, education of the impacted children, establishment of a special tribunal for speedy delivery of justice.
Chairperson of OSHE foundation, Ms Saki Rezwana urged the government to listen to the voice and demands of the victims and take urgent and immediate steps for their upliftment and to help them lead a life of dignity.