From one month before the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, the families of the 1138 workers killed in the disaster and over a thousand workers left with life changing injuries can start registering claims for compensation to cover the financial losses and medical costs they suffered as a result.
As the claims begin campaigners are strengthening their call for brands buying from factories located in the devastated building to pay millions of dollars in compensation into the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, set up to finance these payments.
The Trust Fund, which has been set up by the International Labour Organisation has been open for contributions since February. The Fund needs to reach a final target of $40million in order to pay out full compensation to all workers and their families.
The experts involved in designing the process estimated that 25% of the final target would be needed to make the first round of payments to all workers. The coordination committee now believes that sufficient funds are available and agreed to launch the claims process on March 24th, one month before the first anniversary.
The claims will be calculated and delivered in line with international standards under a system known as the Arrangement. The process will be overseen by a multi-stakeholder coordination committee comprising of international and Bangladeshi representatives from government, industry and the trade unions.
The timing of the claims launch will ensure that all victims and their family should receive an initial payment by the first anniversary of the disaster on April 24th. All beneficiaries will be invited to submit a claim, with the aim to process all payments within six months, which will paid out over up to four instalments.
Every family will receive a minimum payment of 50,000 BDT by 24th April (around $2 million in total) as an advance payment towards their claim. Those workers whose claims can be fully processed by April 24th will also receive their first full instalment, which will represent 20% of their total claim.
The only barrier now in getting compensation to the victims of the garment industry's worst ever disaster is the refusal of many brands to make significant contributions to the Fund.
Ten brands have already confirmed donations into the Fund, including Mango, Inditex and C&A. This week an agreement was reached between the Coordination Committee of the Arrangement, the multi-stakeholder body overseeing the compensation process, and Primark, which initially set up its own process for delivering payments to 500 workers employed at New Wave Bottoms, the factory supplying the Anglo Irish retailer.