DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Hundreds of garment workers protested Friday outside a Bangladeshi factory where 112 people were killed by a fire, demanding compensation for their lost salaries, while relatives of those who did not survive gathered nearby, hoping against hope to find their remains.
Sonia Afrin traveled hundreds of kilometers to wail in grief outside the factory gates, begging for word of her brother, Kabir Parvez. Dozens of bodies, too badly burned to be identified, were buried soon after the Nov. 24 fire.
"Won't I be able to see my brother's face again? Why don't you say anything?" she cried. "Why, oh Allah? Why are you punishing us this way?" Some onlookers tried to console her.
Nearby, about 300 workers chanted "Want Justice" and "Want Compensation" in front of the closed Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory in a Dhaka suburb. They have been out of work since the fire in this impoverished South Asian country, which relies hugely on its $20-billion-a-year garment industry.
"We want the owner to reopen the factory as soon as possible or pay us a few months of salary because we have nowhere else to go right at this moment," said Hasan, a worker who escaped the fire and uses only one name.
Many of the workers earned about 4500 takas ($56) each month at the plant, plus overtime. It is money Dipa Akter, who injured her leg escaping the fire, cannot afford to lose.
"I need to recover soon. I need money immediately. We want at least four months of salary to just get by now and by this time, we will look for jobs in other factories," said the 19-year-old, who has worked at the factory for three years. "Otherwise, I have to go back to my village, where I have nothing to do."