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Big brands failing to honour Bangladesh compensation claims

International brands, including Walmart and El Corte Ingles, are being urged to contribute to a fund for the families of 112 workers killed and those permanently injured in the 2012 fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh.

The Tazreen Claims Administration Trust was formed to oversee compensation claims, collect funds and work with organisations representing the families.

Brands with yearly revenues of more than $1m (£663,000, €940,000) were asked to contribute at least £100,000, and payments have been agreed by the Dutch company C&A, the Hong Kong group Li & Fung, representing fashion group Sean John, and KiK, in Germany, all of which sourced goods from Tazreen.

However, the US multinational Walmart has so far contributed nothing, even though it has given more than $1m to the fund for victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh.

In Spain the store chain El Corte Ingles, which joined the original committee formed to help Rana Plaza victims, has paid nothing to the Tazreen fund.

Sam Maher, of the Clean Clothes Campaign, the international group working for better conditions in the garment industry, said: “These workers have been waiting for three years to get the financial payments which they need for daily survival, to pay for rent, education and healthcare.

“They should not be forced to wait any longer. There is no justification for refusing to pay. Tazreen workers deserve to be treated the same as those at Rana Plaza.

“We urge all those brands that were buying from Tazreen to contribute now.”

Judy Gearhart, executive director of the International Labor Rights Forum, said: “It is unconscionable that after three years the Tazreen victims and families still haven’t received meaningful compensation and Walmart hasn’t paid or pledged anything at all.”
Similar protests are being made about the failure of KiK to enter talks on compensation for the victims of the 2012 Ali Enterprises fire in Pakistan, which killed 257 workers and seriously injured more than 600.

KiK honoured a legal agreement and paid into an emergency relief fund run by Pakistan’s Singh High Court Commission, but has failed to join good faith negotiations on long-term compensation and to pay $250,000 for labour standards enforcement, both stipulated by the agreement.

To highlight the compensation campaign Shahida Parveen, a victim’s widow, and Farhat Fatima, from the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, a party to the agreement, delivered a global petition to KiK in Berlin last month and met politicians, media and other concerned groups.

Parveen said: “We demand long-term compensation in order to secure a decent future for all of our children – their education, housing, health and general upbringing.”

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