6 years ago

5th anniversary of Rana Plaza disaster today

About 50pc survivors still unemployed

Slow pace of trial creates a society of immunity

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More than 47 per cent of the survivors of Rana Plaza disaster are still unemployed while most of the injured people couldn't bear medical costs of their own, a roundtable on the fifth anniversary of the tragedy Monday observed.

Garment sector experts at the programme also put special emphasis on introducing 'injury insurance scheme' at garment factories and other industries for the greater welfare of both the workers and industries.

Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) organised the round table jointly with the Daily Star, held at Azimur Rahman Conference Hall in the city.

Today (Tuesday) is the fifth anniversary of Rana Plaza Tragedy, one of the world's worst industrial disasters.

The building collapse killed more than 1,132 workers in 2013 at Savar, an outskirt of the capital.

More than 2,000 survivors were injured from the nine-storey complex, which collapsed on April 24, 2013.

Joint convener of Workers and Employee Unity (SKOP) Naimul Ahsan Juel said 1,132 families and 2,050 injured survivors have not been properly compensated.

He said many workers, who became disabled from the tragedy, got between $3000 and $3200, most of which were spent for their treatments.

He said 47 per cent survivors are still unemployed amid lack of works or lack of physical-mental fitness.

Officer in-charge of ILO, Dhaka Gagan Rajbhandari said the Bangladesh government will have to insist the private sector to introduce injury insurance scheme in industries.

He said the working environment of Bangladesh has improved and many things will have to be done further.

Center for Policy Dialogue director (research ) Dr Khandoker Golam Moazzem pointed out that working environment has been improved but wage should be increased.

He said their study showed Tk 8200 was the minimum wage standard instead of Tk 5300 in 2013 as per the living costs.

He said the newly-formed wage board for the workers is very positive.

The owners should take in mind the rising living costs in last five years.

He said the country's garment export has been witnessing a slow growth trend for the last few years.

The key reason for the decline is the global recession which is still persisting in Europe and North America.

He said Vietnam has been getting orders for RMG as an alternative market of China thanks to her developed infrastructures.

The Bangladeshi infrastructure has been improving which will be helpful in near future to get investment from China and other countries in garment sector.

Secretary of Samajtantrik Sromik Front, a workers platform, Razekuzzaman Ratan said the country's industry is still very weak both in the perspective of 'Right to Work' and 'Return to Work.'

He said working environment both in RMG and non-RMG are hazardous.

"And after any disaster, there is little option for the survivors to return to their work which we could see in Rana Plaza or Tazrin Fire incidents.

He said the country should form a 'Social Security Fund' for all workers following that of Cambodia and Malaysia for the betterment of workers and industry.

Ray Ramesh Chandra, member of BILS and a labour expert said the garment owners will have to pay a little as insurance premium which could give them release from big compensations.

He said fire incidents in garment sector has declined significantly in last five years thanks to taking necessary measures and following safety measures.

He said the owners should come forward to introduce the insurance scheme.

Vice-president of BGMEA Mohammed Nasir said 1,200 factories were closed in last five years as they couldn't meet compliances.

He said Bangladesh has become a role-model for improving working climate in garment sector.

He said the exporters are paying 0.03 per cent worth of their export order to the government's workers welfare fund.

He said biometric database of 3.0 million workers under 2200 factories have been completed and a 24 hours hotline has been introduced for workers for any help.

He said wage has been increased by 223 per cent between 2010 and 2017.

Nazrul Islam Khan, secretary general of BILS said affected people are still waiting for justice long after five-years.

He said trial of Rana Plaza owner, Sohel Rana, and nearly 40 others including factory officials and government inspectors who were charged with murder are still incomplete.

He said proceedings are being delayed while many witnesses have already gone missing. The painful slow pace of the trial has been creating a society of immunity.

Vice chairman of BILS Shirin Akhter chaired the event while, executive director of the same organisation Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed moderated.

Rob Wayss, executive director, Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, among others, also spoke on the occasion.

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