Rana Plaza compensation: a botched disbursement
Every month, Firoz Hossain, a worker at New Wave Bottoms Ltd, a garment factory that was housed at ill-fated Rana Plaza, would send a good portion of his monthly salary of Tk 11,000 back home in Rajbari.
Now jobless, after the collapse of Rana Plaza on April 24, Hossain is left wondering how he would be able to support his wife and two children through Eid-ul-Fitr, the country's biggest religious festival.
“I'm desperately looking for a job. Had I received something from the government, I might have gotten by. A miserable Eid now awaits us,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.
So far, he received Tk 42,000 from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) as salary, Tk 16,000 from British retailer Primark and Tk 3,000 as individual donations, most of which have already been exhausted. “I am the lone bread earner of my family.”
Hossain's is not an isolated story. Like him, many of the victims of Rana Plaza collapse are yet to receive their due compensation, three months after the tragic incident.
“I did not get any money from the Prime Minister's Office yet,” said Emdadul Islam, who used to iron clothes at Phantom Apparels Ltd that was located on the fourth floor of the complex. As of yesterday, Islam only received Tk 10,000 as salary from the BGMEA.
Some workers received as much as Tk 15 lakh, while others got as little as their salaries from the BGMEA, according to Khairul Mamun Mintoo, general secretary of Garment Sramik Trade Union Kendro, a workers' platform based in Savar-Ashulia area.
Many say the faulty data collection is to blame for the botched disbursement of compensation. The local administration compiled a list of victims of the building collapse from hospital registrations. As a result, the ones who received minor injuries and therefore needed little medical attention, like Hossain and Islam, were most definitely left off the list of beneficiaries.
Reaz-Bin-Mahmood, vice-president of BGMEA, said the trade body asked all its members to donate at least Tk 25,000 each towards the disaster fund.
So far, it has disbursed Tk 7 crore in salaries, spent Tk 2.5 crore on treatment of wounded workers and deposited Tk 3 crore to the prime minister's relief fund.
“Although many international retailers promised to donate money to the disaster fund for the Rana Plaza victims, they did not contribute finally.”
Other than the proceeds from the BGMEA, many individuals, companies and institutions, too, donated money towards the government's relief fund.
To date, some 777 families were compensated from the Prime Minister's Office, with each family receiving either of Tk 5 lakh, Tk 10 lakh or 15 lakh.
Moreover, a total of 100 workers received Tk 1 crore from group insurance of the five garment factories that were housed in Rana Plaza; 20 workers from each factory received Tk 1 lakh each.