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Little Help for Bangladesh Garment Factory Worker Survivors

Little Help for Bangladesh Garment Factory Worker Survivors

Six months after a major clothing factory collapse in Bangladesh, 94% of the victims are still awaiting compensation, a charity says. The charity, Action Aid, says many survivors have serious injuries that have prevented them returning to work. More than 1,130 people died when the Rana Plaza building near Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, collapsed in April.

Action Aid, questioned nearly two-thirds of survivors and victims’ relatives for its survey. It found that 94% of those questioned said they had received no legal benefits from their employers, including sick pay or compensation. It also found that 92% of survivors had not gone back to work, with 63% of those reporting physical injuries including amputations, paralysis and severe pain. Of those surveyed, 92% said they were deeply traumatised.

‘Mounting debts’

Until now, Primark is the only company that has provided financial support to victims - about £118 ($191) each to 3,300 people, according to Action Aid. The company has said it will continue to pay wages to those affected for three more months.

The Action Aid survey found that survivors of the Rana Plaza disaster were facing severe financial difficulty. More than half said they had mounting debts, and more than 90% said they had no savings.  Retailers in the EU and the US have pledged since April to improve working conditions in factories they use in Bangladesh, but negotiations between trade unions and retailers over long-term compensation have yet to produce a deal.

On Tuesday, the Bangladeshi government and the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched a further initiative to improve the safety of buildings and prevent fires in the clothing industry. The $24m (£15m), three-and-a-half-year plan is to be funded by the British and Dutch governments.

The ILO has been tasked with bringing together numerous measures aimed at improving working conditions, the BBC’s Mahfuz Sadique reports from Dhaka. But he says that a fire at a textile plant earlier this month has highlighted once more the dangers still faced by workers in the world’s second biggest clothing industry.