On Nov. 24, 2012, more than 120 workers burned to death after becoming trapped behind locked exits at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In addition, 300 people were severely injured in the fire.
Tazreen Fashions customers included global brands Walmart, Disney, El Corte Ingles, Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Sears, Dickies, Delat Apparel and Sean John amongst others. Two years after the fire, none of these brands have paid compensation. Walmart claimed it did not contract with the factory, even though labels for Walmart clothing were found in the rubble.
The parties have been engaged in ongoing negotiations facilitated by the ILO, and details of the program hopefully will be finalized soon, with compensation being received by the victims and their families.
“On the second anniversary of Tazreen, we are very pleased to say that compensation for the survivors and the families of victims is finally in sight,” said Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union. “The outline agreement between IndustriALL, the Clean Clothes Campaign and C&A provides the principles for a compensation process to give much-needed financial assistance and allow survivors to get essential medical care.”
As part of this agreement, C&A Foundation has pledged to contribute a significant amount towards compensation for Tazreen victims, in addition to those funds that already have been committed. The final details of pledge will be worked out and made public once the cost of the package has been finalized.
Only Hong Kong based Li & Fung, the world’s largest sourcing agent, and C&A Foundation have made some payments through the Bangladesh government. El Corte Ingles and Kik have made informal promises to compensate victims, but no formal agreement has been reached.
“Now the agreement for a compensation scheme has been reached, we are calling on all the brands that sourced from Tazreen Fashions to pay into the fund,” said Raina. “We welcome the lead taken by C&A and other brands must follow. The victims of this terrible tragedy have suffered long enough.”
Walmart was Tazreen Fashion’s biggest customer and workers had just completed a shipment to the U.S. retail giant before the fire. Walmart has yet to compensate victims.
“We congratulate C&A for taking this important step and call on other brands to follow,” said Philip Jennings, general secretary at UNI Global Union, which represents Walmart workers in stores. “We ask that companies such as Walmart, Benetton and Gap to do the right thing for the victims of both Tazreen and Rana Plaza, the survivors and their families, and pay into the compensation funds...”