The readymade garment factory owners have said they would not pay the wages of the dead victims of the Savar Rana Plaza collapse.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has claimed that the money that the prime minister has started distributing among the families of the dead victims included the wages.
“We think that [prime minister’s compensation] is enough. If the family members of a dead garment worker get the money, it is a huge relief for them,” said Md Abdul Ahad Ansary, chairman of the BGMEA standing committee on labor education and welfare.
He also claimed that disbursing the package was a government decision.
However, Mikail Shipar, secretary of the labour and employment ministry, yesterday told the Dhaka Tribune that the money disbursed from the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund did not include the wages.
“This is a grant from the premier, not a compensation. The BGMEA has no connection with this,” he said, adding that the fund comprised of contributions from different organisations and individuals.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is supposed to pay financial grants worth Tk200,000 to each of the families of the 1,127 dead victims of the April 24 collapse of Rana Plaza that housed five factories.
The PMO has so far handed over grants to the families of 221 dead victims.
The BGMEA has already paid each of the 2,614 workers, who survived the deadly collapse, minimal compensation packages that included their outstanding wages.
It said it would hand over the payment to the few remaining survivors very soon.
Meanwhile, the fate of the workers reported missing since the tragic collapse, hangs in the balance.
Authorities have so far buried a total of 291 unidentified bodies at the capital’s Jurain Graveyard and samples of all of their DNA have been preserved, even though relatives had reported that 304 workers were still missing.
Relatives of the missing ones have so far filed a total of 134 general diaries (GD) with Savar police station.
The GDs are to serve as documentation for their compensation claims.
Whether their families would get the prime minister’s grant would totally depend on finding out their identities by matching the DNA samples with those of the relatives.
BGMEA officials said after the DNA test reports are finalised, they would prepare a final list of the missing ones which would then be verified by district administrations and police.
They, however, assumed that most of the missing victims were not garment workers; rather staff who worked at the building.
According to sources from Dhaka Medical College Hospital, conducting all the DNA tests would take at least two more months.
“It will take more time. We do not know when the families of the missing victims will finally receive the wages,” said Md Rafiqul Islam, joint secretary (labour) of BGMEA.
Kamrul Hasan, upazila executive officer of Savar, said: “We will match the DNA collection list with the missing victims’ list to prepare a final list.”