Strict Insurance and Labour law can ensure equitable compensation
In the months following on from the Tazreen Factory fire and the collapse of the Rana Plaza, international scrutiny of Bangladesh’s RMG industry has intensified. Working conditions have been criticised, accords have been signed by global retailers, trading privileges with the USA on certain products have been suspended, factories have been inspected and legislation has been reviewed. As a result of such scrutiny, generous cheques have been given by the Government, the BGMEA and foreign buyers to a few of the workers affected by the accidents. Yet, till date, there still remain several hundred injured workers and relatives of those who remain missing, who have yet to receive any form of compensation. In many countries, victims of such workplace accidents would have been able to take advantage of insurance schemes. In Bangladesh, laws pertaining to group insurance have long remained in the books, but they have yet to become a reality for the country’s RMG workers. The recently passed Labour (Amendment) Act, 2013, has done little to ameliorate the situation.
Workers’ Insurance Scenario in Bangladesh
Pursuant to the amended Section 99 of the Labour Act, 2006, it is compulsory for there to be group insurance for establishments where there are more than 100 permanent workers. Previously, this figure was 200. Group insurance allows workers to claim up to Tk. 1,00,000 and Tk. 1,25,000 for death and permanent total disablement respectively. According to Badrul Ahsan (Financial Express-BD, 23 December, 2012), depending on the number of workers and working conditions, each owner would only have to pay between Tk. 12,500 to Tk, 1,00,000 per annum for such insurance. In spite of there being a legal requirement to obtain group insurance and its relative affordability, more than 1200 export-oriented RMG factories, including the Rana Plaza factories, have not obtained group insurance as of November,...
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