A survey conducted by Action Aid Bangladesh shows 48% survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse are out of employment due to their physical and mental weaknesses, at a program on Monday.
The findings were unveiled at the program titled “Five years of Rana Plaza tragedy: Invitation to Advancing Decent Work Agenda: Departure from Rana Plaza.”
Chhabi Biswas, MP was present as chief guest, while Action Aid Bangladesh Country Director Farah Kabir moderated the program.
Action Aid Bangladesh conducted the follow up survey on 200 survivors of the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed over 1,135 RMG workers in 2013.
It was found that 51.3% survivors are engaged in various types of wage and self-employment, while 48.7% survivors claimed that they are not working due to their physical and mental weaknesses.
Of the surveyed survivors, some could not return to working due to physical or mental weakness.
Of those who are unemployed, the majority have not worked in the last 6 months, said Action Aid Bangladesh in its survey findings.
The objective of survey was to understand the level of progress in the rehabilitation and reintegration of Rana Plaza victims. The findings are based on the perception and acknowledgment of respondents.
The survivors who are currently employed are engaged in different types of activities. 21.6% of the survivors have returned to garments factories, while a similar percentage is working as day labourers. This is a significant change from the last survey, where only 2 percent were working as day labourers.
In the survey, it was also found that 12% said that their condition is getting worse, 70.5% are more or less stable, and 17.5% are completely stable.
Those among the 12% who reported that their condition is deteriorating in the current survey complained of headaches, pain in the hands and legs, and back pain, as some of the major problems.
In terms of psychological health, 22.5% are still in trauma in comparison to the 30.8% reported in the previous survey. Currently, 63% reported that they are more or less stable and 14.5% have recovered fully.
No standard form of compensation yet
Five years have gone by, but there is still no standard form of compensation for worker death and injury,in case of industrial accident, experts and rights group underlined.
“The issue of workers’ compensation is still not settled. The compensation is still Tk1 lakh,” M M Akas, a professor of Dhaka University in the department of Economics said.
“The committee formed to settle compensation for the victims of Rana Plaza recommended Tk15 lakhs as compensation and it was placed to the court”, said Akas.
“The court is yet to give a verdict,” he added.
“There should be a permanent standard in paying compensation to the workers. The calculation of compensation package should be based on ILO convention, which is based on the loss of earnings and number of family dependents,” said Wajedul Islam Khan, general secretary of Trade Union Centre.
Meanwhile, the workers’ rights leaders stressed on ensuring workers’ rights to ensure complete safety and making the sector a sustainable one.
“On the day of Rana Plaza collapse, the workers were forced to enter the factory despite safety risks. The owners did not consider the value of lives and they went unpunished,” said Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed, Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) executive director.
“The right to say no to unsafe workplaces should be ensured when there is any breach of workers’ rights”, Sultan said.
“Everyone is talking about the number of trade unions, but my question is how effective are they. Still now, workers risk being fired in case of their involvement in trade union,” said Sultan.
“Even the police interfere when workers stage demonstrations for their wages,” he added.