We need fast compensation.Shila Begum

Rana Plaza victim

My name is Shila Begum, I am 25 years old and I was working on the 5th floor of the Rana Plaza building. I'm not allowed to say for which brands we were producing in my factory. I used to have a husband, but he died 8 years ago and I have daughter of 10 years old.

I injured my right hand and arm when the building collapsed and I was brought to a medical clinic. They could not treat me as needed – I was operated and they removed the uterus – for my right hand I am getting treatment every day free of cost at a rehabilitation centre. I am living with my younger sister who is working in another garment factory, she supports me and gives me some money, that’s how I survive: in hardship – my daughter is with my elder sister in her rural house.

We need fast compensation – and care for children of Rana plaza victims, like a school so that they can continue their lives – me and other Rana Plaza victims who were injured did not receive adequate medical treatment, so I ask buyers, the government and the BGMEA (the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Export Association) to establish a separate hospital dedicated completely to the Rana Plaza victims, as well as for their rehabilitation. I dream about a good future for my daughter – if I can support her to be educated that is my hope and dream. I fear that my younger sister will marry and I will have to leave the house because the future husband doesn't want me there.

I was a garment worker in a factory myself and now I work full-time to organise workers in factories.Nurum Nahar

NGWF organiser

My name is Nurum Nahar, I am 40 years old and I am the Vice President of the National Garments Workers Federation (NGWF) and I organise workers in the factories.

I was a garment worker in a factory myself and now I work full-time with NGWF to organise workers in factories. I go to factory gates and meet factory workers, I gather their contact details and call them when they finish work so they can come to the office. It is very difficult. I talk to them and give them my business card. I tell them to come to the NGWF office and we will help them make their life better, and that they have to give their contact information and go by the office.

What I do is to go to a factory like I were looking for a job and once I am inside, I make contact with the workers I meet, give them my card and tell them that I am an organiser in NGWF. I tell them they can always contact me when their factory is not paying them the legally minimum wage. Often when I invite a worker, they say that they don't have time because of their work and family take up all their time.

At first, when approached, workers are not very interested in joining the union given that they have very busy lives with their jobs and families. So I go again and again to convince them to join until they do. Also it helps to have something in common with them to gain their trust. So I go to the same groceries stores, become their friends and that makes it easier to convince them.

Yes, trade unions are not accepted. I was fired from my job because I was participating in trade union activities – the director took a picture of me during my activities, specifically in an action plan meeting of NGWF. He sent it to the line chief and he fired me because of it. In 2012, the last time the management called me to come to the office and asked me where I had gone yesterday, I said I had been at home, so then they showed me a picture they had taken of me the day before to show me that they knew where I was, which was with NGWF. I answered them that it was actually a workers team. They fired me.

Bangladesh labour law of 2006 states that trade union rights are guaranteed under law, but in practise, workers are fired when they join a union, therefore I want to train workers to know more about their rights, ensure women maternity benefit and ensure safety at workplace.


Tazreen victim

My name is Reshma and I am 20 years old. I worked behind a sewing machine on the second floor of Tazreen Factory building. C&A, Walmart, Gap and some more.

When the Fire broke out, I jumped from second floor through the window, my right leg was fractured and I hurt my hip and spine very badly. I was operated upon my leg twice and can still not walk properly, it still hurts and the doctor advised me not to work due to my spinal problems. I received 100.000 Taka (about € 940,-) from the BGMEA (the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Export Association) and 4000 Taka (about € 37,50) per month from C&A at the time, but not anymore.

My husband used to work at Tazreen too, we used to be able to run the family but now we are in dire conditions and it is very hard. NGWF is helping us. All brands should pay compensation – any amount of money to be able to rebuild our lives and not be dependent on anyone else helps. I cannot work or walk properly. We used to work for the brands so they should take responsibility for their workers.  

Jorina BegumJorina Begum

Tazreen victim

My name is Jorina Begum, I am 25 years old and was working as a senior operator in Tazreen on the forth floor. When fire started I went down to the second floor and saw my male colleges trying to break a widow, I joined them and we broke window and jumped, I fell on a male colleague, after that I lost consciousness.

In the fall I broke my leg and hurt my spine. I was taken to hospital fast, and after a couple of hours returned to my sense, I was there for two days and was brought to another medical centre for five days and then to a trauma centre for another five days. I started talking again in the trauma hospital, before that I couldn't. Doctors told me to go home and advice me not to work, not to take heavy load work up again.

C&A used to pay 4000 Taka (about € 37,50) per month for 14 months plus medical treatment. After that it stopped. They gave some occupational training like how to operate sewing machines. But I can't sit for longer than an hour, so that is a problem.

My two older brothers died during the fire and left 4 children therefore I want compensation so that I can take care of the children and myself. My husband is unemployed now so can't help me. We have tried, but the government, brands and BGMEA (the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Export Association) are not responding to our demands. Brands should pay compensation that will ensure our futures so that we don't suffer in future and don't need any help from others.