Five years ago on 24 April 2013 in the Savar Industrial Zone, the Rana Plaza building was collapsed, which killed 1135 garment workers. Recently Action Aid Bangladesh published a survey that shows 48% survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse are out of employment due to their physical and mental weaknesses. Action Aid Bangladesh conducted the follow-up a survey on 200 survivors out of 1400 survivors over the phone.
The objective of the 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 survey found that the condition of 12 percent survivors is getting worse, 70.5 percent are more or less stable and 17.5 percent are completely stable.
Of the 12 percent, their conditioning is deteriorating, as they are suffering from a headache, pain in hand and leg, back pain as some of the major problems.
In terms of psychosocial health, 22.5 percent are still in trauma in comparison to 30.8 percent survivors last year. Currently, 63 percent are more or less stable and 14.5 percent have recovered fully.
The survey found that about 51.3 percent survivors are engaged in various types of wages and self-employment. Of 48.7 percent survivors claimed that they are not working. For these who could not get back to work cited physical weakness (59.6 percent) and mental weakness (13.1 percent) as the main reasons for being unemployed. Survey also found that majority of the (97.6 percent) have not worked in the last 6 months.
Among the survivors currently employed, they are engaged in different types of activities where 21.6 percent survivors have returned to garments.
Farah Kabir, Country Director, Action Aid Bangladesh said, “Though five years have been passing, the workers are getting nothing other than financial assistance. As part of compensation, we have to work in rehabilitating them mentally, socially and financially.”
Many initiatives have been taken after the Rana Plaza incident by the government owners, buyers. However, the initiatives, sometime, have been taken separately or on an ad-hoc basis. “We need to make the initiative institutionalized’, she added.
We believe Bangladesh RMG industry doing better progress in safety and security issue due to buyer initiative after Rana Plaza, it is not industry owners initiative said, M M Akas, Professor, Department of Economics, Dhaka University.
I think workers’ wages should be increased as per market demand because we are moving towards developing country, Akas added.
According to the Survey, Bangladesh government already formed wage board for workers, which covered 42 sectors but not to all workers and missing national coverage and standard setting.
More than 4.5 million workers are working in garments sector, but only 2 million workers are attached with the trade union.
“The issue of workers’ compensation is still not settled. The compensation is still Tk1 lakh,” he said.
“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.
Anne-Laure Henry-Greard, Officer-in-charge of the International Labour Organization in Bangladesh suggested avoiding discrimination in trade union registration, establishing congenial industrial relations between owners and workers and being more compliant to maintain trade privilege to the European Union for better garment business.
Survey also said Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) manpower is not strong in terms of inspectors (312Inspectors) and huge lack of logistics support.
“Rana Plaza is our learning point, after this incident our industry is safer due to Accord and Alliance. After transaction period of Accord and Alliance, DIFE would be monitoring their activities, said Mohammad Hassan, Executive Director, Babylon Group.
“I think DIFE could not be handling all issues, it can be electrical problem handling by Power division, health issue handling by the ministry of health and family Welfare,” he added.