When I was in Bangladesh in early December 2013, the issue of compensation for victims of the fire and building collapse tragedies was one of the issues in the forefront.
(The other major issues were building safety and working conditions going forward.)
Adequate compensation for workers who were disabled and family members whose breadwinners had died was sought.
We have insurance and other compensation mechanisms in place in the United States. These are not in place in Bangladesh.
Therefore the establishment of this victims fund and the initial contributions to it are major steps forward.
Progress does not come easy or all at once, but progress can come with ongoing awareness and attention.
I also learned something very important, in my meeting with the victims and family members of recent tragedies.
In this 90% Muslim country, the workers spoke to our “non-sectarian” delegation appreciatively about the essential and prompt aid they had received from Caritas (Catholic Charities) Bangladesh after their tragedy and loss.
The Christian population of Bangladesh is less than 1% yet Catholic Charities Bangladesh was at the center of relief efforts. I know I should not have been, but I was a little surprised. I definitely was proud and inspired.
Let’s rejoice in the step forward, but the work toward decent and safe working conditions is long-term and complex. There is so much more to do.