25 Oct 2013

Building collapse survivors still await compensation

12:56 pm on 25 October 2013

An international charity organisation says that six months after a major building collapse in Bangladesh, 94% of the victims are still awaiting compensation.

The charity, Action Aid, says many survivors have serious injuries that have prevented them returning to work.

More than 1130 people died when the Rana Plaza building near Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, collapsed in April. Many of them worked in clothing factories in the building.

Having surveyed nearly two-thirds of survivors and victims' relatives, Action Aid says 94% of those questioned said they had received no legal benefits from their employers, including sick pay or compensation. More than half said they had mounting debts, and more than 90% said they had no savings.

The survey 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.

Until now, Primark is the only Western clothing company that has provided financial support to victims - about $230 each to 3300 people, according to Action Aid.

The company has said it will continue to pay wages to those affected for three more months.

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.

Earlier this week, the BBC reports, the Bangladeshi government and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) launched an initiative to improve the safety of buildings and prevent fires in the clothing industry.

The $46 million three-and-a-half-year plan is to be funded by the British and Dutch governments.