A fund created to compensate victims of Bangladesh’s worst industrial disaster has made its first payments as the country prepares to mark the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse.
The payments were made as a Geneva-based international labour group blasted Western retailers for their “woefully inadequate” contributions to the fund set up by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
An injured survivor and the mother of a deceased worker were each given about 50,000 taka ($A690) at a ceremony.
“I’m happy. I want to use the money to set up a shop as I can’t work in a garment factory any longer,” Jesmin Akhter, 22, an unemployed survivor, told AFP after getting the cheque.
Akhter suffered backbone and leg injuries in the disaster.
Bangladesh’s deputy labour minister Mujibul Haque Chunnu and the ILO deputy director general, Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, handed out the cheques at the ceremony.
The fund is paying about 3000 people – survivors or families of the dead – 50,000 taka each as an advance against their claims.
Bangladesh labour secretary Mikail Shipar said the maximum compensation is expected to total three million taka.
The nine-storey factory complex, where dozens of Western retailers were making clothing, collapsed on April 24 last year, killing 1138 people and injuring more than 2000.
The tragedy highlighted appalling safety conditions in Bangladesh’s $US22-billion garment industry, the world’s second largest after China.
So far retailers have pledged $US15 million to the proposed $US40-million ILO-managed trust fund.
In a statement, global labour group IndustriALL slammed global retailers for not putting enough money into the fund.
“They share a collective responsibility for this profoundly unsustainable production model and its hazards,” said its general secretary, Jyrki Raina.
“Brand contributions to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund remain woefully inadequate.”