Unprecedented Tragedy Proves That An Adequate Workers’ Compensation System Is Critical

Bangladesh 06-07-2013

As tragedy again strikes the surviving victims of the April 30th Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh, among the many problems present is the inadequate compensation provided for the victims. This week, two recently developed issues have brought this discussion to a head:

1) Up to 600 displaced employees were hospitalized with stomach pain and vomiting. Hospital staff members believe this is due to a contaminated water supply. Local authorities are investigating the possibility that the water may have been poisoned with pesticides.

2) Two separate protests this week ended in violence between protesters and police officers, as security forces sought to disperse the crowds using tear gas and rubber bullets. While some of the workers present were demanding better conditions and wages overall, a significant number were relatives of injured or deceased victims of the collapse asking for compensation.

The conversation about Bangladesh’s economic prospects and potential policy reform is one for another day that would take far more space than this blog allows. However, this terrible situation serves to demonstrate extremely well how critical adequate workers’ compensation is to the recovery of the local economy and the victims / families of the deceased. In Bangladesh, these people have to fight tooth and nail for the compensation they so rightfully deserve in light of this intolerable negligence. Yet, while some governments and companies are providing help, more often than not their pleas are ignored or, worse, met with violence and corrupt practices. And when considering a disaster of this scale – with over 1100 employees dead and many more injured – these problems are exacerbated.

These actions should not be tolerated by any means. A factory collapse in Washington state, for example, would lead to investigations but more importantly would likely lead to adequate compensation to the victims. Too often workers’ compensation can be shed in a negative light, as a battlefield of “uncaring employers trying to save a buck” versus “employees scamming the system for all they can.” But when the system works as it should both employers and employees are gifted with the peace of mind that safety is a priority, and the security that potential risks the future may hold are hedged. I’ll be following developments on this case very closely, but if you have any additional information or would like to share your opinion I would love to have the opportunity to discuss this further.

Source: BBC News

Further Background Information: Fox News

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