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Garment workers demand compensation for collapse victims

Many of the 2,500 injured can not afford treatment

Garment workers demand compensation for collapse victims

Relatives of the dead and missing from Rana Plaza protest with their images reporter, Dhaka

June 3, 2013

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Hundreds of garment workers protested in Dhaka on Sunday to demand compensation for the victims of April’s building collapse which killed 1,129 people and injured about 2,500.

Dhaka authorities have paid 5,000 taka ($63) to each of the injured and 20,000 taka to the families of the dead to pay for funerals, according to Kamrul Hasan Mollah, the chief government official of Savar, the district in which the accident occurred.

“We have given the workers what we had,” said Mollah. “The BGMEA [Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association] and other trade bodies have to pay the workers what they are supposed to pay according to the labor law.”

According to Bangladesh’s labor code, the factory owners are liable to pay compensation of up to a maximum of 100,000 taka for anyone killed or injured in the work place.

Khairul Mamun, a senior official of the Garment Workers Trade Union Center which organized Sunday's protest, said that the longer it takes to compensate the injured, the worse the suffering is likely to get.

“There are workers who seriously hurt their limbs and spinal cords. They need long term treatment but can’t get it because they don’t have money,” said Mamun. “The families whose only earning members died in the accident are living a miserable life.”

Meanwhile, Christians across Bangladesh joined a special prayer service on Saturday for those who died during the tragedy.

All of Bangladesh’s 90 Catholic parishes joined the Christian response which included a collection for the victims’ families the following day at Sunday mass.

“Many Christians actively took part in rescue operations and helped victims with food, health services and money after the disaster. However, we [also] wanted to get involved in prayer and donations for the victims,” said Father Albert Rozario, parish priest at the Holy Rosary Church in Dhaka, the largest and wealthiest parish in the capital.

With many of its parishioners amongst the poorest people in rural areas of the country, overall contributions came to an estimated US$3,125, added Fr Rozario, who is also the secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission.

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