Pakistan fire victims producing for German low-cost retailer KIK
- Labels from German brand KIK found in factory
- KIKfailed to respond to calls for action
- Campaigners call for brands to take immediate action
The Clean Clothes Campaign today express their shock and outrage at the failure of German company KIK to ensure that workers in its supplier factories are employed in safe working conditions after it was confirmed that Ali Enterprises, which last week burnt down killing almost 300 people, was producing jeans for the low-cost retailer.
Around 650 workers were working at the Ali Enterprises factory when the fire broke out last Tuesday. Locked fire exits, barred windows and blocked stairways meant almost half of them perished. Many others were injured after jumping from the top floor of the building. The factory was not legally registered and had not undergone any building checks or government inspections. The owners of the factory have now been charged with murder, although they have yet to be apprehended by the authorities. The National Trade Union Federation in Pakistan is now also calling on authorities to look at charging KIK and any other confirmed buyers from the factory with criminal negligence.
“These workers lost their lives in the most horrific manner producing jeans for European customers” said Lars Stubbe of the German Clean Clothes Campaign. “That KIK has failed to respond with any remorse or urgency highlights the total lack of respect and care they have for the workers employed in their supply chain.”
Over the weekend garments were recovered from the factory carrying the 'Okay' logo, a label produced and sold in KIK stores in Germany, Austria and across Eastern Europe. To date the company has failed to take responsibility.
The Clean Clothes Campaign is now calling on KIK to acknowledge responsibility and take immediate action to investigate the causes of the fire, ensure redress for the victims including immediate medical treatment and compensation and to conduct a full safety review of all their remaining suppliers.
KIK, which stands in German for 'The Customer Is King', is Germany’s seventh-largest textile retailer and was set up in 1994 by German entrepreneur Stefan Heinig, establishing a discounter model of low-cost retailing for clothing. It operates over 3200 stores in eight European countries. In 2010 turnover at KIK exceeded 1,69 billion Euros. Although it claims to operate a code of conduct for its suppliers, this incident has highlighted in the most tragic way possible the failure of brands like KIK to adequately monitor their supply chain.
'Foreign buyers don’t care about the working conditions at the factories here,' said Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan. 'A 30-minute visit to the factory would have revealed that the labourers are provided with none of the facilities that the owners claim in the documents [sent to buyers].'