“Nearly five months after the deadliest incident in garment manufacturing history, the suffering is far from over for the victims, their relatives and the rescue workers,” Jason Motlagh writes for The Washington Post.
“Many families have received only part of their promised financial compensation. And activists and health-care professionals decry a lack of psychological and financial support for scores of survivors and rescue workers stricken with invisible handicaps,’ he notes:
According to the Solidarity Center, a nonprofit group affiliated with the AFL-CIO, the Bangladeshi government has paid settlements to dependents of 777 of the 1,131 confirmed dead in the disaster, in amounts ranging from $1,250 to $5,000. An additional 36 garment workers who lost limbs or were paralyzed have received between $15,000 and $18,750 each.
Smaller amounts have come from a British chain, Primark, which used a supplier in Rana Plaza, and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, which represents the $20 billion-a-year industry. A group of Western clothing brands are also discussing providing a lump-sum payment for the suffering experienced by the victims of Rana Plaza.
“Our demands are to ensure a safe workplace for garment workers through compulsory inspections, a living wage, and the right to organise,” said Amirul Haque Amin, President of the Bangladeshi National Garment Workers Federation. “The conditions that garment workers are in is totally unacceptable, with the minimum wage just 3000 taka [around $39] a month. Workers must work 12 hour days, and sometimes seven days a week. But I am hopeful of the impact of the accord,” Mr. Amin said. Garment manufacture constitutes the biggest industrial sector in Bangladesh, he said, and over 79 per cent of its exports in 2011-2012.
“We are trying to build international solidarity on this issue, as it is about the ethics of U.K. companies where we shop and work. A motion on the agenda will be moved at our congress by the shop workers unions on the Bangladesh situation,” TUC’s Head of European Union (EU) and International Relations Department, Owen Tudor told The Hindu:
The Bangladesh Building and Fire Safety Accord, crafted by the global unions IndustrialALL and UNI, has already been signed by 86 clothes brands including names such as Abercrombie & Fitch (U.S.); Benetton (Italy); Carrefour (France); Casino Global (Hong Kong); Next; Primark; and Marks and Spencer (all three U.K.); H&M (Sweden); Mango (Spain). It also has labour NGOs such as Clean Clothes, plus representatives of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Government of Bangladesh on board.