3 years since Rana Plaza, 58.4% survivors still traumatised

58.4 per cent survivors of deadly Rana Plaza collapse incident are still traumatised and 48 per cent of them remain unemployed due to physical and mental weakness even after three years of the tragedy, says a survey report of ActionAid Bangladesh. The findings of the survey titled ‘Three Years Post Rana Plaza: Challenges in RMG Sector’ was revealed at the city’s Brac Centre Inn, Dhaka, Bangladesh on Saturday.

This is the third consecutive survey of ActionAid Bangladesh. In 2016, the survey has been conducted over telephone which covered over 1,300 survivors and 500 kins of the deceased during March 15-31 this year.

Presenting the research findings, ActionAid Bangladesh research coordinator Nuzhat Jabin said ‘physical condition of 78.8 per cent of the 1,414 injured workers is improving compared to previous year's 70 per cent. Meanwhile, 14.6 per cent of the injured workers said they still have serious physical problems’.

The report shows bout 79 percent of the survivors intend to get involved in small business in the future. Only 4.8 percent of the respondents have planned to work in garment factory, while further 5.4 percent intend to do jobs in other sectors. 10.3% of them have no career plan so far.

In the report launch event, Nazma Akhtar, a Rana Plaza survivor said, ‘I worked in Fantom Factory. I was severely injured in the collapse. So far I have received one hundred and forty five thousand taka in three phases. This is not enough for my treatment and income generating activities’.

Country Director of ActionAid Bangladesh, Farah Kabir said, ‘Though three years have passed, 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 govt. owners, buyers. But the initiatives, sometime, have been taken separately or on ad-hoc basis. We need to make the initiative institutionalised’, she said. 

Hameeda Hossain, prominent human rights activist of Bangladesh, said, ‘The initiatives taken by the different stakeholder are not sufficient to rehabilitee survivors and deceased family. They still have health, job, economic and social crisis. The amount of money the victims are getting as compensation is not enough. The survivors should be given support for a long for their recovery from physical and psychological problems’.

The Alliance, an initiative of North American retailers and brands, Managing Director Mesbah Rabin said in the event, ‘there are lots of challenges in Bangladesh’s garments sector. Still, there is no rule on subcontracting. It should be addressed. We have inspected many factories and given recommendation. But ultimately it’s the duty of an owner to make factory compliance. This is very important for the safety of the garment worker’. 

In the report, ActionAid Bangladesh has called for incorporating the compensation mechanism which reflects the prevailing socio-economic reality within the national legal framework and continuing the factory inspection and streamlining the process of providing permits for setting up factories.

Keeping the post Rana Plaza initiatives and challenges in RMG Sector in mind, this report also proposes the following recommendations: strengthening the designated government department to continue the factory inspection and streamline the process of providing permits for setting up factories, ensuring the ‘true spirit’ of ‘freedom of association’ prevails by adequately empowering the trade unions to collectively bargain for their rights; minimising the loopholes in the labour law to make it worker-friendly; Continuing the social dialogue for broader accountability framework for the global fashion brands need to be in place to ensure workers safety and basic rights.

Editors' notes

Savar building collapse or Rana Plaza collapse was a structural failure that occurred on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 in the Savar Upazila of Dhaka, Bangladesh. At least 1,134 people mostly female workers of the five garment factories housed on Rana Plaza were killed and over 2,500 people injured as the building collapsed due to negligence of the authorities concerned. It is considered the deadliest garment-factory accident in history, as well as the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern human history.

Sheikh Manjur-E-Alam

Manager - Board, Governance & Communication, ActionAid Bangladesh

Email: sheikh.manjur@actionaid.org, Mob: +8801732997631

Md. Sariful Islam

Orifice - Communication, ActionAid Bangladesh

Email: md.sariful@actionaid.org, Mob: +8801915631608