No Justice for the Dead in Bangladesh (The Nation)
“Five months on, sweeping promises about improving factory safety and cracking down on illegal subcontracting remain hamstrung by scant resources and a near-total lack of coordination among parties. Victims’ compensation ranges from inconsistent to nonexistent. According to the Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies, none of the 4,000 families affected by the tragedy have received the full payments promised by the government or the [Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Exporters Association (BGMEA), the powerful trade body that represents the $20 billion-a-year industry]. [...]
“BGMEA vice president Reaz Bin Mahmood concedes that in a country as cash-strapped and chaotic as Bangladesh, inspections are ‘a very scratch process.’ The BGMEA has just ten inspectors. The fire department has eighty but says it needs ten times that. Teams staffed by engineering teachers struggle with inadequate equipment and the labor ministry is trying to hire and train 200 more inspectors in the coming months. In the meantime, there remains no central coordinating body to keep track of what the various agencies are up to. Manufacturers complain that certain factories have been inspected multiple times while others are ignored. [...]
“Some owners say that even third-party auditors dispatched by the major brands take bribes. And even if they’re legitimate, they never look further than the big factories. One owner, whose office boasts certificates for excellent safety standards from H&M, the second-largest garment company in Bangladesh, admits that, under intense pressure to deliver orders in less time, he still has to outsource some stages of production. ‘There are so many uncertainties—strikes, shipment delays, holidays, corrupt officers at the port—that subcontracting will always’ be a part of garment making in Bangladesh. ‘The brands know it,’ he adds, but ‘they pretend they don’t.’”
After Bangladesh Factory Collapse, Bleak Struggle for Survivors (New York Times, December 18, 2013):
“[W]hile the Rana Plaza disaster stirred an international outcry — and shamed many international clothing companies into pledging to help finance safety improvements in other Bangladeshi factories — the people most directly affected are still living without any guarantees of help or financial compensation.
“Families who lost the wages of a son or daughter, husband or wife, are struggling.
“Those who lost limbs, like Ms. Khatun, are uncertain if they will ever walk or hold things again. And many volunteer rescuers like Mr. Forkan and survivors are struggling to deal with debilitating emotional scars.”
And see: on anti-caste: