IndustriALL suggests Tk 57 lakh for each worker
IndustriALL, a global federation of unions, yesterday recommended an average of Tk 57 lakh as compensation for each of the families of the workers who died in the Rana Plaza building collapse.
The compensation was based on the loss of future earnings, and in line with a convention of International Labour Organisation, said IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, the local chapter of the IndustriALL Global Union that represents 50 million workers in 140 countries.
Nazrul Islam Khan, chairman of IndustriALL Bangladesh, said: "Almost one year has passed since the disaster, but the victims and their families have not received any compensation."
"There are many victims and families who have received nothing. They are leading a miserable life," he told reporters at the National Press Club in the city.
The briefing came three weeks before the first anniversary of the deadliest industrial disaster in history, which took lives of more than 1,130 people, mostly workers, on April 24 last year.
The Switzerland-based global union federation has been pressing for a $40-million fund for the victims.
Thanks to the initiative from IndustriALL, about 155 brands and buyers have signed the Building and Fire Safety Accord in Bangladesh for improving garment factory conditions in the country.
So far, international buyers and brands have deposited $8 million to the Rana Plaza Compensation Trust Fund, said Roy Ramesh Chandra, secretary general of IndustriALL Bangladesh.
Separately, UK-based clothing retailer Primark will give $9 million more to the workers of New Wave Bottoms, one of the five garment factories that were housed in the Rana Plaza building.
Primark already provided Tk 95,000 to all of the 580 workers of New Wave Bottoms and their families.
Chandra also said all the 3,639 workers who were involved in the five factories would get a minimum of Tk 50,000 each from the trust fund, no matter whether they were injured or killed or not, by April 15.
The payment of the compensation has been dragging on as the government has not yet completed the claim process, which he said would take two to three months.
He also said anybody who is not on the list of the 3,639 workers should contact the Council office for the compensation.
The council has recommended Tk 50,000 to Tk 50 lakh for each of the injured workers, depending on the severity of their injury. The families of the victims have been recommended to receive between Tk 25 lakh and Tk 50 lakh, depending on the workers' loss of earnings.
Chandra said around 3,200 workers would be entitled to the compensation. "We have also recommended treating the missing workers as dead."
IndustriALL also criticised Wal-Mart for their continuous refusal to compensate the workers who sacrificed lives and received major injuries while making clothes for the US brand.
Khan said: "Wal-Mart has always refused to provide compensation. This is not fair and is not consistent with the company's own corporate social responsibility policy."
He said it is the duty of the owners of the factories to pay the compensation. "But our owners are not paying heed to the demand."
"We are helping the local factory owners by urging the global brands to contribute to the trust fund."
Both Khan and Chandra said through the compensation package, IndustriALL wants to establish a model for the industry as well as the country, so the victims of any incident do not need to wait for months to receive compensation.
According to IndustriALL, 26 global brands including Wal-Mart, Benetton, KIK, Mango and YesZee were directly linked to garment factories in Rana Plaza with recent or trial orders or previous production.
"We believe they should all publicly contribute to the compensation fund," Chandra said. "It is a shame that some buyers and brands are not honouring their responsibility."
The council will organise programmes in the run up to the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse. It includes a multi-stakeholder roundtable on April 16, a human chain in front of the National Press Club on April 18 and a worker rally on the Rana Plaza site on April 23.