Rana Plaza disaster, two years on
WITH a mixed bag of feelings we note that though the garment industry has managed to rise above the Rana Plaza shock over the course of two years since the collapse the victims are still reeling in despair for want of adequate financial support and rehabilitation.
The tragic incident took a toll of more than 1100 lives and left many injured, amputated and missing. Unfortunately, there is still debate over the number of missing workers. According to government sources, the number of unidentified victims is 62 while CPD puts it at 85. Obviously, the families of unidentified victims are out of count.
Initially, there were various initiatives to support the victims and their families which have gradually lost momentum due to lack of coordination and guaranteed provision for compensation. Though the victims were promised sufficient financial support to cover their monthly expenditure as well as medical expenses the amount received by them falls short of requirement and varies from person to person. The government is yet to include uniform provisions for compensation under the labour law. On the back of inadequate financial support, lack of comprehensive rehabilitation scheme has left the victims and their families in perpetual hardship. Only some victims are employed locally but they get below what they used to earn from regular work.
We urge the government to immediately finalise the long overdue compensation provision and ensure financial support for Rana Plaza victims accordingly. There should be a special rehabilitation scheme for the injured workers compatible with their physical handicaps. Although our garment industries have improved a lot in terms of infrastructural compliance there is more to be done to enforce international labour standards to protect workers' rights, particularly their right to form unions.