German Retailer KIK continues to deny full compensation for victims of three deadliest garment industry tragedies in history

German retailer KIK continue to delay paying full compensation to victims of the two deadliest garment factory disasters in history

 

Today, marks the second anniversary of the fatal fire at Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan, which killed at least 254 garment workers and injured 55. Two years on, the victims families and the survivors are still waiting for the compensation they are entitled to.

Just weeks before the fire, the factory was audited on behalf of Italian social audit firm RINA for SAI (Social Accountability International) SA8000 certification – and passed – even though it had no emergency exits, barred windows, was not registered and had an entire illegal mezzanine floor built on.

The survivors and victims families fate is shared with the families of more than 1,300 garment workers who have been killed in unsafe workplaces in Asia since the Ali Enterprises fire, and the thousands more who survived fires and building collapses but whose lives have been changed forever.

German retailer KiK had clothes produced in each of the three factories to witness the greatest loss of life – Ali Enterprises, Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza – and yet to date has failed to provide full and fair compensation for all the victims.

In December 2012 KIK, the only known buyer at Ali Enterprises factory, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) committing an initial US$1 million for immediate relief and agreeing to negotiations surrounding the amount required to pay compensation. However the negotiation is being delayed by KiK, who most recently pulled out at the last minute of planned negotiations in July and compensation remains unpaid.

KIK has committed US$1 million to the Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund, just a fifth of what Clean Clothes Campaign estimates they owe, based on their annual turnover. And for the victims of Tazreen Fashions they have failed to contribute a cent.

 “KIK were sourcing from the factories involved in three of history’s deadliest tragedies – Tazreen, Ali Enterprises and then or course Rana Plaza, – these were not accidents, these were the result of continuous price pressures by discount retailers like KIK causing factory owners to cut corners and to keep pay at poverty levels, forcing workers to risk their lives to keep their families from destitution. Over 1,600 people died in these three tragedies and two years later the injured workers and surviving families are barely able to make ends meet. KIK must pay full and fair compensation to all those who have paid the highest price for KIK’s low cost products, their refusal to accept their responsibility for full compensation just prolongs the suffering of the very people their profits are built on.” Kate Nolan, Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland

The tragedies in the garment industry over the last two years have highlighted the urgent need for a more long term and sustainable compensation system for workplace accidents as per ILO standards and in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights right to remedy framework. The framework makes clear that “when … there is a failure to protect and respect human rights in the workplace then governments and companies must ensure effective remedies, including adequate compensatory payments.”

It is not charity that the survivors want, it is their right to full and fair compensation,” says Mr. Karamat Ali, Executive Director of PILER.

As workers and campaigners around the world hold candlelight vigils to commemorate those who died in the fire, Clean Clothes Campaign renews it’s call to KiK to resume negotiations based on the legally binding agreement with PILER, and pay up, ensuring all the victims families and survivors receive the compensation they are owed before another year passes.

 

Bangladesh factory fire: brands accused of criminal negligence.

 

 

The Clean Clothes Campaign, along with trade unions and labour rights organisations in Bangladesh and around the world is calling for immediate action from international brands following yesterday’s fire in Dhaka Bangladesh, which cost the lives over one hundred garment workers.

The killed and injured workers were producing garments for international clothing brands when their factory, Tazreen Fashions, went up in flames. According to their website Tazreen produced for a host of well known brand names including C&A, Carrefour, KIK and Walmart.  The Clean Clothes Campaign believes that international brands have shown ongoing negligence in failing to address the safety issues highlighted by previous fires, and that this leaves them with responsibility for yet another tragic loss of life.

Many of the workers jumped to their deaths trying to escape from the six story building, others, unable to escape the blaze, were burned alive. The death toll continues to rise as rescue workers plough through the remains of the devastated factory. One fire fighter at the scene reported that there wasn’t a single fire exit on the outside of the factory.  First reports suggest the fire was started by an electrical short circuit. web hosting server The cause of over 80% of all factory fires in Bangladesh are due to faulty wiring.

“These brands have known for years that many of the factories they choose to work with are death traps. Their failure to take action amounts to criminal negligence” says Ineke Zeldenrust from the Clean Clothes Campaign.

Together with our partners in Bangladesh the CCC is calling call for an independent and transparent investigation into the causes of the fire, for full and fair compensation to be paid to the victims and their families and importantly concrete action from all parties involved to prevent future tragedies.

“As we yet again mourn the loss of scores of garment workers in Bangladesh, we demand that brands step up their game. Tragedy after tragedy underlines our belief that simple, cosmetic changes to existing programmes simply aren’t enough. Action needs to be taken to address the root causes of these fires” said Ms Zeldenrust.

The CCC, together with local and global unions and labour rights organisations has developed a sector-wide program for action that includes an programme of independent and transparent inspections, an obligatory upgrading of the buildings supplying participating brands, a review of all existing laws and safety regulations, a commitment to pay prices that can cover the costs involved and the direct involvement of trade unions in worker training on health and safety. The Clean Clothes campaign is now renewing its demand for brands need to sign on immediately.

The employers and government of Bangladesh must also take their share of responsibility. The government must carry out an immediate investigation of the causes of the fire and prosecute those whose negligence has caused the death of these women and men. It must also invest in a country-wide programme of inspections to ensure that the buildings currently in use a fit for purpose and the buildings and wiring meet safety standards. All factory owners in Bangladesh must immediately review the safety procedures in place at their factories, carry out checks on he building and electrical safety and, most importantly, start working with trade unions to train their workers on safety procedures and allow space for workers to voice their concerns.

The Clean Campaign will continue to work with out partners on the ground to establish the full facts of the case and to push for justice for those affected by this terrible tragedy. In the meantime we call on all those with a stake in Bangladesh garment industry to move on from mere hand wringing and towards meaningful and concrete action to prevent such a horrific loss of life from happening in the future.

Notes

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) works to improve conditions and support the empowerment of workers in the global garment industry.  The CCC has national campaigns in 15 European countries with a network of 250 organisations worldwide.

CCC has been working with partners in Bangladesh to improve fire and safety conditions since 2005, when the Spectrum disaster killed 64 workers. Since then we have campaigned for justice for workers following numerous fire, including Garib andGarib, That’s It Sportwear and Eurotex. See http://www.cleanclothes.org/news/global-brands-should-ensure-garment-worker-safety

In March 2012 PvH signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bangladesh unions, international unions, CCC and other labour rights groups to work on a fire safety programme. Tchibo also signed on in September 2012. Despite months of negotiation GAP withdrew from the MoU in October this year. See http://www.cleanclothes.org/urgent-actions/gap-statement