Bangladeshi clothing factory’s ‘miracle survivor’ makes a clean start

A garment worker who spent 17 days trapped in rubble has been offered a job in a hotel

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The Independent Online

When the “miracle survivor” Reshma Begum was pulled from the collapsed Rana Plaza building after 17 days beneath the rubble, she declared she would never work in a garment factory again. Fresh from her release from hospital, a hotel firm has now secured her wish by offering her a job at nearly seven times her old salary.

Clad in a bright green headscarf and the uniform of The Westin Dhaka she addressed the media in the hotel’s ballroom in Dhaka, speaking of her relief at not having to return to her job as a seamstress.

“I am feeling very good that I have been given this opportunity,” said Ms Begum, who was given a job in the hotel’s housekeeping department when she left the Combined Military Hospital on Wednesday. “Now I have totally recovered and am fit for work.”

Her position carries an estimated monthly salary of £290, far higher than the £42 she received at New Wave Bottoms, which reportedly made clothing for European brands such as Primark and Matalan. “Her role will be to monitor the hotel’s public areas,” said its manager, Azeem Shah.

She thanked the hospital staff for the care and “fine treatment” she received, but added:  “I still feel very bad when the thought of my ordeal comes to my mind.”

She is not the only one who feels unhappy. While Ms Begum has been saved from returning to an industry with standards so lax that 1,129 of her fellow workers died and 2,500 were injured when their illegally constructed factory fell apart last month, thousands more workers have not been so lucky, as events in Bangladesh have underlined this week.

Many maimed survivors of the Rana Plaza disaster and their family members have complained that they have not yet been compensated. And at least 50 people were injured this week as police and activists from the country’s ruling party attacked more than 1,000 survivors and relatives as they demanded compensation and rehabilitation for the injured workers.

Meanwhile several workers remained in hospital this week after more than 600 employees at Starlight Sweaters, run by the Labib Group, reportedly fell ill after drinking water supplied in their work premises.

Staff at the Uttara Modern Medical College and Hospital said 131 other patients were had been released after arriving at the hospital’s emergency department with symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders.