WORKPLACE DEATH, INJURY

Legal entitlement to compensation not ensured despite govt pledge

Moinul Haque
A file photo shows a floor of the Tazreen Fashions Ltd devastated by a fire incident on November 24, 2012. The government has failed to ensure in stipulated time a legal entitlement to compensation for workers in case of death and injury in workplace incident though it is a commitment under the National Action Plan. — New Age photo

A file photo shows a floor of the Tazreen Fashions Ltd devastated by a fire incident on November 24, 2012. The government has failed to ensure in stipulated time a legal entitlement to compensation for workers in case of death and injury in workplace incident though it is a commitment under the National Action Plan. — New Age photo

The government has failed to ensure in stipulated time a legal entitlement to compensation for workers in case of death and injury in workplace incident though it is a commitment under the National Action Plan.
Labour rights groups alleged that the government and factory owners were the main obstacles to implementation of the pledge made in the NAP.
Government officials, however, said that they could not concentrate on the issue due to their focus on many other burning issues related with safety and security of workers.
Following the fire incident at Tazreen Fashions Ltd on November 24, 2012 that killed at least 114 workers and injured 200, mostly women, the government adopted the NAP.
Under the NAP, the government promised to develop a tripartite protocol for compensation for the families of workers who died and injured as a result of occupational accidents and diseases.
According to the pledge made in the NAP, the tripartite protocol will include a review of the appropriateness of the level of current legal entitlement to compensation bearing in mind the concept of loss of earnings and the provisions of International Labour Organisation Convention 121.
The government also set the expected date of completion of the work by December 31, 2013.
‘Both the government and the factory owners think that if any higher amount is set as compensation it will put a negative impact on the employment,’ labour rights activist Sultan Uddin Ahmed told New Age.
It is a long-standing demand of labour rights groups to set a national standard of compensation for the workers based on ILO Convention and considering the local environment, he said.
‘A common national standard for compensation should be set as in most of the cases of industrial incidents families of victims did not get proper assistance,’ Sultan said.
Labour secretary Mikail Shipar said that it would not be possible to set the standard for compensation within short time as the ministry was now busy to meet many other important conditions like workers safety and factory compliance.
‘The process is delayed as we cannot concentred on the issue for various reasons. But we hope to set the standard for the compensation in future,’ he said.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Atiqul Islam said, ‘As per law in case of death in the workplace incident workers will get Tk 1 lakh each as compensation but we have done more for the victims of Tazreen Fashions fire and Rana Plaza building collapse on humanitarian ground.’
It will be helpful for the factory owners if the government sets a parameter for the compensation, he said.
Nazma Akter, president of Combined Garment Worker Federation, said that factory owners were the main barriers to setting of the compensation standard as they never wanted to bear the responsibility of industrial accidents.
Despite repeated demand, the government is yet to take any initiative to set a standard for compensation as the government also protects the interest of the owners, she said.
‘If owners had goodwill, they would have learnt from several incidents and the government would have ensured exemplary punishment to the culprit owners like Tazreen owner Delwar Hossain,’ Nazma added.

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