Victims of the nation's worst industrial disaster appear one step closer to receiving compensation from the government after a 31-member panel finalised a set of recommendations.
“We will submit them to the government anytime now,” said MM Akash, chief of the panel formed on a High Court order on August 29 last year, after the Rana Plaza collapse.
The committee recommended Tk 14.5 lakh for the dead and missing workers and the permanently disabled ones, Tk 7.5 lakh for those who have lost one limb, Tk 4.5 lakh for workers needing long-term treatment and Tk 1.5 lakh for the traumatised survivors.
The victims who have already received a certain sum from the Prime Minister's Fund will receive the balance of their respective package, he said.
For instance, families of the 777 deceased workers who earlier received Tk 1 lakh from the Prime Minister's Fund will get Tk 13.5 lakh.
The court will determine the source of funding for the compensation packages, Akash added.
Meanwhile, Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said the body will contribute to the compensation packages as per the law of the land.
“It is still undecided who will contribute what amount, but everybody who is involved will have to donate,” he said, adding he will sit with the international retailers once the government locks in the compensation committee's recommendations.
Roy Ramesh Chandra, secretary general of IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, the local arm of the global union federation IndustriALL, however, disapproved the recommended figures as they were not arrived at by following Article 121 of ILO convention.
As per ILO convention, in case of death the worker's family is entitled to Tk 25 lakh. The permanently disabled workers should receive more than Tk 25 lakh, the recoverable injured ones Tk 15 lakh and those with minor injuries Tk 5-10 lakh.
Ramesh also gave an update on the parallel compensation initiative of a number of European and Bangladeshi organisations that include IndustriALL, Clean Clothes Campaign, a number of retailers, the government, BGMEA, Bangladesh Employers Federation and main labour union coalitions.
Using the ILO benchmark, it has been estimated that $74.5 million will be required to adequately compensate the victims. So far, four retailers—Bonmarche, Primark, Loblaw and El Corte Ingles—have provided $40 million.
Under the arrangement, families of the 1,135 dead workers will receive Tk 20 lakh each, with the compensation to be provided from February in instalments.
Mojtaba Kazazi, the executive commissioner of United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), is due in Dhaka in a day or two to meet the coordinating committee so that the procedures for compensation can be started as soon as possible.
Chandra said the whole compensation process will be completed within the next six months.
As for the injured workers, a coordinating committee will soon evaluate the gravity of injury and recommend a suitable compensation amount from the trust fund. Dhaka Medical College Hospital and the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed will make the injury assessments.
IndustriALL Bangladesh Council has proposed Sultana Kamal, former advisor to a caretaker government, to head the committee to determine the amount of compensation money, he said.
Meanwhile, the coordinating committee will approach the other retailers that sourced garment items from the factories housed in Rana Plaza to contribute to the compensation fund.
ILO will act as a facilitator in the whole process.