- POSTED: 24 Dec 2013 16:46
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Four global retailers, along with manufacturers and labour groups, have agreed to set up a US$40 million compensation fund for victims of Bangladesh's Rana Plaza disaster that killed 1,135 people, officials said on Tuesday.
DHAKA: Four global retailers, along with manufacturers and labour groups, have agreed to set up a US$40 million compensation fund for victims of Bangladesh's Rana Plaza disaster that killed 1,135 people, officials said on Tuesday.
Retailers Primark, El Corte Ingles, Loblaw and Bonmarche have pledged to contribute to the fund following the collapse of the garment factory complex in April, the world's worst industrial tragedy, the officials said.
"A fund has been established to compensate the victims, injured workers and dependants of the deceased, of the Rana Plaza collapse," said Lejo Sibbel from the International Labour Organisation which helped broker the agreement reached last month.
"An estimated US$40 million will be required to compensate the victims and their beneficiaries," said Sibbel, who is based in Dhaka.
"To finance the payments to victims, international brands and retailers are making voluntary contributions into the fund, which is also open to contributions from any other international donors," he told AFP.
The agreement comes after talks between owners of clothing brands and labour activist groups on a compensation deal ended in failure in Geneva in September.
The collapse of the nine-storey complex on the outskirts of Dhaka,where workers stitched clothes for top Western retailers, highlighted the often appalling conditions and lack of rights for workers at Bangladesh's 4,500 garment factories.
Bangladesh's US$22 billion garment industry is the world's second largest after China's and employs four million workers, most of them women.
More than 100 European and US retailers pledged to improve safety in the wake of the tragedy, but a deal on compensation for families of workers and those injured has remained elusive.
Families will receive payments for lost wages "on a case by case basis" while compensation for injured victims will depend on the outcome of a medical assessment under the fund to be chaired by the International Labour Organisation.
"The exact amounts that the victims (will get) will differ, as it will depend on the beneficiaries' age and the family composition, and for the injured also on the outcomes of the medical assessment," Zeldenrust said.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, which represents the nation's textile factories, and the Bangladesh Employers Federation have also signed up.
But the Bangladesh government, which has also joined the agreement, said it would not contribute to the fund. It has already paid 180 million taka (US$2.25 million) in total to 777 victims of the disaster.
"We'll compensate the other victims very soon," the government's labour secretary Mikail Shipar told AFP.
The government has compensated only the families of those who died in the tragedy and those who lost one or more limbs. Around 1,500 people who suffered injuries ranging from broken spinal cords to concussion have not been given anything.