Bangladesh collecting details of deadly factory collapse victims for compensation amid protest

SAVAR, Bangladesh – Bangladesh began compiling details Monday about the victims of the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse as part of a compensation deal, but dozens of people took to the streets demanding a more complete accounting of the disaster.

The collapse killed more than 1,100 people and highlighted the grim conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry, a major supplier to global fashion brands.

Mojtaba Kazazi, executive commissioner of Rana Plaza Claims Administration, said injured workers and families of the dead should have compensation payments in six months.

Retailers like Bonmarché, El Corte Ingles, Loblaw and Primark have pledged $40 million for the fund.

“Today we have started working, we will continue it for months,” Kazazi said. “But the whole process will be complete in six months.”

An independent panel formed under the direction of Bangladesh’s High Court has recommended that the disabled and the families of the dead should receive more than $19,000. The panel also recommended nearly $9,000 for workers who lost limbs and about $1,900 for workers who suffered psychological trauma.

Nearly a year after the collapse, many victims say the compensation has been too slow and that the list of the dead is still incomplete. Dozens of people protested in the capital, Dhaka, and its outskirts Monday, demanding information about the missing.

Jomila Begum sobbed Monday as she often visited an office set up to help the victims and their families in Savar, outside the capital.

Begum said her daughter worked at a factory in Rana Plaza and has been missing since the collapse, but the authorities have yet to confirm she was among the victims.

“I gave them blood for DNA test, but no news, they can’t say anything,” Begum said.

Kazazi, a former U.N. official, said volunteers were working to inform the injured workers and the families of the dead to check in with the administration. His group set up a booth of a Bangladeshi bank where families can open bank accounts to receive the funds directly from compensation fund.

The fund came into being after representatives from the government, the garment industry, buyers, trade unions, local and international nongovernmental organization formed the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee in September last year.

Bangladesh is the second-largest garment-producing country after China, and it earns more than $20 billion a year from such exports, mainly to the United States and Europe.