Activists say pressure on working conditions, pay and health and safety all comes from overseas retailers.
A top Bangladesh court has ordered the government to “immediately” confiscate the property of a collapsed building’s owner, as thousands of protesters demanding death penalty for the man clashed with police, leaving 100 people injured.
A two-judge panel of the High Court on Tuesday also asked the central bank to freeze the assets of the owners of the five garment factories in the building, and use the money to pay the salaries and other benefits of their workers.
The order came after police produced Mohammed Sohel Rana and the factory owners in court. The order did not elaborate but it was implied that the salaries of the dead victims would be paid to their relatives. The court has given the police 15 days to interrogate Rana.
At least 386 people were killed and 2,500 people escaped with injuries when the illegally constructed eight-storey Rana Plaza collapsed on April 24.
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According to one estimate, about 1,000 people are still missing, indicating that the death toll could end up in the neighbourhood of 1,400.The collapse has become the deadliest disaster to hit Bangladesh’s garment industry, which is worth $20bn annually and supplies global retailers.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent, whom we are not naming due to reporting restrictions, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who visited the site and met survivors, has promised to severely punish those responsible for the tragedy.
Britain’s Primark and Canada’s Loblaw, two western retailers that had factories in the building, have also pledged to compensate families of the victims
Al Jazeera’s Daniel Lak, reporting from Loblaw’s headquarters in Canada, said that while the announcement of compensation is a partial victory for labour activists, what remains to be seen is the nature of the aid and how meaningful it will be for the families.
Clashes broke out again on Tuesday between thousands of garment workers and police in Savar, leaving at least 100 people injured, the United News of Bangladesh news agency reported.
It said police attacked with sticks when the workers, who were demanding death penalty for Rana and news of the missing people, tried to break the security cordon around the collapsed building. At least 22 of the injured were hospitalised, it said.
The protesters also smashed at least 20 vehicles in the area, the agency said.
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Earlier, people had waited patiently at the site for news of missing relatives, holding their pictures and identity cards as they watched cranes lifting sections of ceilings and floors from the rubble. Emergency workers in hard hats used drilling and cutting machines to break up the slabs into manageable pieces.
Ratna Akhtar, looking for her husband at a nearby school ground, wailed: “Give me my husband back. At least I want to see his dead body if not alive.”
Most of the bodies have been handed to families except 49 that have been kept at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital for identification. Mahmud Ali of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society said many more bodies are believed trapped under the rubble of the building, judging by stench of decomposing flesh still emanating.