4 Years of Rana Plaza Tragedy: 42.4% Survivors Unemployed

Around 42.4% Survivors are Unemployed who were victim of Rana Plaza Tragedy. ActionAid Bangladesh (AAB) has worked closely with the survivors and families of the deceased since 2013. AAB provided emergency support during the rescue and developed a comprehensive database of survivors in 2013. Additionally AAB continues to work with survivors on issues of rehabilitation and re-integration. Since 2013 AAB has been using the database to periodically collect information to track the progress of the survivors and families of deceased.

This follow-up panel survey aims to critically examine the progress around rehabilitation and reintegration of Rana Plaza survivors and families of deceased.

The specific objectives of the current study are as follows:
• To capture the progress around socio-economic rehabilitation of the survivors and families of the deceased through a panel survey.
• To track the status of changes in the policy architecture and progressive reforms around labor rights and work place safety
• To explore way-forward for re-thinking and accelerating the reform initiatives

The survey was conducted on survivors and families of deceased. The sample sizes were 1403 and 607 for survivors and families of deceased. Out of the 1403 survivors surveyed, 34.8 percent were men and 65.2 percent were women with majority (over 70 percent) aged below 30 years. In the case of families of deceased, respondents were mostly spouse, father or brother.

In the current survey, 13.1 percent said their condition is getting worse, 74.5 percent of the respondents said their physical health was somewhat stable and 12.4 were completely stable and. Of the 13.1 percent who reported that their condition is deteriorating in the current survey listed headache, pain in hand and leg, back pain as some of the major problems. The trend of 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 surveys show that physical health status of the survivors is improving and in some cases, it is completely stable.

In terms of psychosocial health, 30.8 percent are still in trauma in comparison to 58.4 percent survivors last year. Currently 57.2 percent reported that they are more or less stable and 12.0 percent have recovered fully.

The present study found that 57.6 percent survivors are engaged in various types of wage and self-employment. 42.4 percent survivors claimed that they are unemployed when the survey conducted. Those who are unemployed cited physical weakness (48.1 percent) and mental weakness (33.4 percent) as the main reasons for being unemployed. Employment rate has increased in the last five years, though the progress is still slow.

4.8 percent earn less than the minimum wage of 5300 BDT. 42 percent of the survivors have an average monthly income of 5301-10301BDT and 31.6 percent earn between 10301-15300 BDT. The situation has improved significantly since 2015 when 76 percent earned less than 5300 BDT. Average expenditure for survivors is 10,560 BDT with major costs incurred for food, followed by house-rent, children’s education and treatment.

Compared to families of deceased, most survivors do not have any savings left of the financial support they received. In the last ten months, 97 survivors received trainings, 121 people received psychosocial counseling and 115 received health support. ActionAid Bangladesh was among other organizations that provided these support.

In terms of the future plan, 41.8 percent survivors who are currently unemployed opted to expand or start their own business and 26.2 percent had no plans. The second section of the report tried to track the status of the reforms.

The closure of the Rana Plaza Claims Administration may be an indicator of success in terms of completing all payments, however as the High Court’s decision on the compensation issue is yet to be resolved; some argue that the payment made so far is monetary support and not compensation in real terms. Other reforms included the amendment of the labour law which addressing the freedom of association and measures to bolster occupational health and safety.

However there is no mechanism to monitor some of these provisions despite the rules being framed in 2015. On the positive side a long-term health support programme for all survivors is in place and the discussion for an employee injury benefit scheme has been initiated an detailed feasibility study is being conducted.

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