Labour leader, rights group demand fair compensation to Tampaco fire victims | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 19, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 19, 2016

Labour leader, rights group demand fair compensation to Tampaco fire victims

The victims of Tampaco Foils fire should be compensated the same way as the victims of Rana Plaza building collapse and Tazreen Fashions fire, a labour leader said yesterday.

Rescuers have so far recovered dead bodies of 34 workers killed in the blaze on September 10.

The compensation package for the victims of Rana Plaza building collapse was made following the ILO Convention 121, which mainly deals with compensation to workers in case of industrial accidents.

However, Bangladesh is yet to ratify the ILO Convention 121.

“It does not matter whether the government has ratified the convention; it is the best practice so far and we should follow this formula so the victims get more money,” said Roy Ramesh Chandra, a labour leader.

As per the convention, compensation to the victims is paid calculating the 'loss of future earnings'.

This formula was applied while paying compensation to the victims of Rana Plaza building collapse and Tazreen Fashions fire, said Ramesh.

The government, Bangladesh Employers' Federation, trade unions and the International Labour Organisation should work together to ensure that the victims get the money the soonest, he said.

“We came to know that Tampaco used to supply foil to some multinational companies like British American Tobacco, Nestle and Unilever.”

The factory also supplied products to two international clothing retailers, he said.

“We want immediate arrest of the owner of Tampaco and the government officials who allowed the company to continue production in such an old building,” Ramesh said.

Meanwhile, following the fire incident, Guy Ryder, director general of the ILO, expressed deep condolences in a statement.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives resulting from an explosion and fire at Tampaco Foils,” Ryder said.

There have been major efforts to enhance workplace safety over the past three and a half years in Bangladesh, mainly focusing on the readymade garment sector, he said.

“Significant work has also been directed towards enhancing the capacity of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, as well as the country's labour inspectorate -- improved working conditions and safety standards across all industrial sectors also depend on strengthening these organisations,” Ryder said.

Despite progress, the incident at Tampaco Foils highlights that there can be no room for complacency and much ground still needs to be covered, he said.

Strengthening the capacity of regulatory oversight bodies is key as is the need to bring together diverse stakeholders to establish a stronger culture of preventative safety in all industrial sectors, the ILO chief also said.

In another statement, Clean Clothes Campaign, a global rights group, said the fire and structural collapse at Tampaco Foils factory demonstrates the ongoing dangers to industrial workers and the failure of global corporations to take meaningful steps to protect the safety of workers in their supply chains.

According to its corporate website, Tampaco Foils' customers include two of the world's largest consumer products brands: Nestle and British American Tobacco.

If this information is correct, the question for Nestle and BAT is why they were producing at a factory where basic safety precautions, like inspection of boilers, were not taken, Clean Clothes Campaign said.

That apparent negligence gives rise to two additional questions: what steps these corporations will now take to prevent similar disasters in other overseas factories and whether these corporations will provide meaningful compensation to the workers injured at Tampaco Foils and to the families of those killed, it said.

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