Savar factory collapse victims no closer to recovery

Savar factory collapse victims no closer to recovery

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Six months after the garment factory disaster at Rana Plaza in Savar, victims of the deadly building collapse are still awaiting compensation and suffering debilitating physical and psychological injuries that have prevented the vast majority of them from returning to work, according to a recent survey. It says that 90 percent of the victims reported that they have not received any legal benefits from their employers including sick pay or compensation since April this year. ActionAid, an international NGO, conducted the survey on 2,297 people — nearly two-thirds of survivors and families of those who died in the eight-storey factory collapse on April 24 this year. The survey comes as the Bangladesh government along with the global alliance of trade unions continues to negotiate compensation for survivors and families of the deceased. The study reveals that about 92 percent of survivors have not yet gone back to work. About 63 percent respondent said physical injury such as amputations, paralysis, severe pains in head, and leg and body have stopped them going back to work. During the survey, it was found that 92 percent of survivors are deeply traumatised with over half experiencing insomnia and trembling from loud sounds. Many survivors said they were scared to walk into a building or an enclosed room. Quoting the study, Naznin Akhter Nazma, 20, who was pregnant when pulled from the rubble and lost her husband in the collapse said, “The day before the factory collapsed we heard that a crack had developed on the second floor, but the supervisor announced that the building was safe and threatened to withhold a month’s pay if we didn’t attend work. “My husband worked on the second floor and I was on the seventh floor. When the building collapsed I was unconscious for two hours. When I regained consciousness I found out that my husband was gone forever. “I heaved a sigh of relief when the doctor said my unborn baby was ok, but now I am worried that I can’t provide for my child. I haven’t had any compensation. My rent is five months overdue and soon shop keepers will stop giving me credit for food.” In addition to physical and psychological trauma, the study reveals that victims are facing severe financial difficulty. Food, medical treatment and household essentials were identified as immediate needs. Yet almost half of those surveyed said they had mounting debts while over 90 percent said they had no savings due to low wages before the factory collapse. To date only one company, Primark, has provided financial support to survivors – three months’ salary of Tk 15,000 (US$ 190) to 3300 people. The Bangladesh government has given Tk 2.2 million (US$ 28,000) to 777 people – around a third of the victims and their family members – but no long-term compensation package has been agreed. Country Director of ActionAid in Bangladesh Farah Kabir said: “It’s indefensible that for six months, multi-million dollar companies have left the victims to fend for themselves. “While corporations sit on their hands, the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster are in urgent need of medical and psychological support, as well as the financial means to feed and care for their families.” –UNB

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