Star file photo
One year have passed since the Rana Plaza disaster but families of deceased workers and survivors are yet to get compensation for the losses, said a top ILO official terming the delay shame for all stakeholders.
"It is very hard, very difficult to stay here today and say that the victims still cannot be adequately compensated. That will be a shame for all of us," said Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, deputy director general of the International Labour Organization for field operations.
His comment came at a discussion on the progress that has been made to ensure factory building and workplace safety since the Rana Plaza collapse, which caused death of 1,135 workers and injury of over 2,400 on April 24 last year.
Ministry of Labour and Employment and ILO jointly organised the programme attended by diplomats from Europe and America, labour leaders and rights campaigners at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel.
The worst ever apparel industry disaster, which took place in less than five months after the death of 112 workers in Tazreen Fashions fire, created huge outcry at home and abroad for poor safety and working conditions in the labour intensive readymade garment sector.
Since then, various initiatives were taken to improve labour standards in the $20 billion export earning clothing industry.
Thanks to international pressure, ILO supported National Tripartite Plan of Action with the government and clothing retailers' pact-- Accord and Alliance that has so far helped inspect 1055 factories.
Of them, 16 factories were temporarily closed for safety risks, said Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar.
ILO deputy director general Houngbo said a lot has been done but more works remain to do to ensure better working conditions in the RMG sector.
A Rana Plaza Trust Fund, an initiative of the government, buyers, BGMEA, trade unions, NGOs was also formed to ensure compensation to the victims, their families and dependants for losses.
However, a total of $15 million has been collected against a target of $40 million.
British High Commissioner Robert W Gibson said RMG is good for Bangladesh.
"It remains vital to poverty reduction, economic empowerment of women. We want to see the RMG sector of Bangladesh thrive and prosper safely and not at the expense of human lives," he said
"I disagree with those who see conspiracies and claims we are creating a labour crisis... We are not. We are trying to help improve and develop a vital industry," he said.
"Compensation is a right, not charity," said Roy Ramesh Chandra, secretary general of IndustriALL Bangladesh.