The wait for help goes on six months after the Bangladesh factory collapse

Laura Kuenssberg

Former Business Editor

Six months on and the rubble remains. Credit: ITV News

'Two bags of rice' - the support given to the sister of one of the victims of Rana Plaza. Nurbana must now look after her sister's son, Rubel who is seven-years-old. She told me she will beg in the streets if she has to, even with nothing, she will stand by her sister's boy.

It's six months after the factory that made cheap clothes for you and me collapsed, five months after we revealed no compensation had reached victims here in Dhaka. Then, the Western brands who used suppliers in the building, like Primark and Matalan, vowed they would help. But we found chaos and confusion, and time running out.

Primark has made more than three thousand payments to survivors and victims' families. The brand has made significant efforts to track them down and is committed to agreeing a long term plan too. But clearly, it has been extremely difficult to make the process work. We spoke to victims like Nurbana, Munna, who lost her daughter, and Nazma, who lost her husband. They all told us they had not yet had any payouts from Western firms.

Nazma is just days away from giving birth to their first child. She was on the eighth floor of Rana Plaza when it collapsed, he was on the tenth and was killed. The former garment worker showed me the baby blankets she has stitched for the child who will never meet his father. She has had a little money from the charity ActionAid, and some help with medical bills. But although she has been able to bury her husband, Nazma told me there's been no sign of Western money that was promised. She said, "the brands were supposed to come for us, but no one ever did."

While an exclusive report shown to ITV News by ActionAid shows that most survivors or victims' families have had some form of support, whether charity, medical bills, or the Primark compensation, the process has been muddled and confused. And perhaps more seriously there is not much prospect of a deal being done to guarantee the long term welfare of these people any time soon. The report also suggests that 93% of survivors have not had any sick pay or other legal benefits from their employers, the Bangladeshi manufacturers.

Six months on and the rubble remains. Credit: ITV News

Primark is the only Western brand so far to have paid actual compensation. They have paid around £115, roughly three months wages, and are committed to paying the same amount imminently. Some others like Premier Clothing have given some donations to charity. Another has given to a spinal rehabilitation unit. But out of more than twenty-five brands whose suppliers had used the factory only Primark is committed to providing in the long term. The company has tried to get compensation to everyone who was affected. But in the long term, they will only compensate around 550 workers who were employed by their supplier New Wave Bottoms. This raises the prospect of more than 2,500 people, who worked for companies which didn’t supply Primark, left without means of support within a matter of days.

For more than three hundred families there may still be a very long wait. 322 bodies have still not been identified. And without a body and a DNA match, there has been no question of compensation. Until two weeks ago, no lab in Bangladesh had the technology to carry out the DNA matching required. We saw the lab today where the FBI have now provided the technology to get the process under way.

Six months on and the rubble remains. Credit: ITV News

Brands like Bonmarche and Matalan tell us that they do want to help. They did attend a meeting with other brands recently to discuss how a long term compensation plan might work, but there was no agreement, and others like Benetton, Premier Clothing and Walmart did not even take part. In Dhaka's sweltering heat, you can still see the scraps of cloth and twisted metal inside the collapsed factory where more than 1,100 people lost their lives. The need here is still quite plain to see. The disaster here has raised impossible questions for its victims here and companies at home - what is the price of a future, and what is the price of a life?