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Rana Plaza Collapse Victims Still Waiting For Compensation

Bangladesh Building Collapse

WASHINGTON — After the Rana Plaza factory collapse killed 1,132 garment workers and injured more than 2,500 in April, the Bangladeshi government and a garment manufacturers association promised financial assistance and other benefits to victims and their families. But over three months later, those expecting payments say they’re still waiting.

Several hundred injured workers and families of the deceased took to the streets in protest on Sunday and Monday in front of the site of the Rana Plaza collapse at Savar, near Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka. Police clubbed the protesters with batons, according to multiple protesters and witnesses interviewed by The Huffington Post. (All interviews for this story were conducted in Bengali).

The Bangladeshi government pledged injured workers and family members of the deceased $1,200 in cash, $19,236 in savings certificates and an additional $1,200 lump sum in life insurance benefits, the Daily Star, a Bangladeshi newspaper, reported.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, a trade group representing companies that operated in the collapsed building, also stepped up to help in the wake of the collapse, saying it planned to collect $320 from each of the over 5,000 association members to contribute to the prime minister’s fund, a preexisting government reserve that assists people during disasters. The association also pledged that it would pay all workers from the collapse for the next three months, and would send those requiring serious medical assistance abroad at the association’s expense.

But according to Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed of the Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies, a labor advocacy organization, none of the 4,000 families affected by the disaster have received the full payments promised by the government or association. Roughly 350 survivors and family members of the deceased received between $1,200 and $2,500 from the prime minister’s relief fund — a paltry sum for the lost lives, he said.

The garment manufactures’ association told HuffPost that it has paid out the wages earned by workers in the month before the disaster. But Ahmed said that while survivors have received that money, the family members of the deceased have not. And nobody’s seen the three-month payout promised, Ahmed added.

When contacted by HuffPost last week, BGMEA Vice President SM Mannan Kochi said the businesses that owned factories at the nine-story Rana Plaza can’t afford to compensate the workers.

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