The brands made the commitment at a meeting held on 15 April in Geneva to discuss a 5.7 million USD compensation plan for the victims of the Tazreen Fashions fire in Bangladesh, which killed 112 workers and injured about 120 in November 2012.
The meeting was hosted by IndustriALL Global Union and attended by major European retailers, a leading Bangladesh trade unionist, the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Worker Rights Consortium.
In an outrageous display of indifference to the suffering of Bangladeshi families, major US corporations Walmart, Sears/Kmart and Disney refused to pay any compensation to the victims and failed to attend the meeting. Walmart was apparently the largest buyer from the Tazreen factory. The companies, which failed to enforce their own worker safety standards, have claimed to be deeply saddened by the deaths.
Major European retailers C&A (Netherlands), KiK (Germany) and El Corte Inglés (Spain) attended the meeting and agreed to make substantial contributions to the compensation plan for the families of the dead and for the injured. The Italian clothing brand Piazza Italia did not attend but has agreed to participate in the package.
"We have agreed on confirming the concrete amounts that each of these brands will contribute by the end of this month," says IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina. "The families and the injured have already waited far too long."
Other companies that were sourcing from Tazreen and failed to attend include Hong Kong based trader Li & Fung, Teddy Smith (France), Edinborough Woolen Mills (UK), Dickies (US) and Karl Rieker (Germany). Li & Fung has however agreed to paying compensation.
The compensation plan, developed by IndustriALL and its affiliates in Bangladesh and supported by international labour rights groups, is based on the compensation formula used in other recent fires. These include the December 2010 fire at That’s It Sportswear, a factory producing for Gap and other US brands, and the fire this January at Smart Export Garments, which was producing clothes for Inditex and others. The details of the plan will be worked out in a subsequent meeting to be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Says Ineke Zeldenrust from the Clean Clothes Campaign, “We once again call upon Walmart and the other major companies sourcing from Tazreen to aid the families of the dead and the injured workers. Their refusal to do so indicates a shocking lack of concern for the rights and well-being of the workers who make their clothes and who, in this case, were injured or killed in the process."