Initial agreement reached on compensation
“Some workers were thrown out of families because they cannot earn a wage any more and are using expensive medication after the fire. It is shameful that brands make these people, who have often lost loved ones, stand on hold for more than a year.” - Amirul Haque Amin, general secretary of the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF)
On the eve of the second anniversary of the Tazreen fire an agreement was made between C&A, IndustriALL Global Union and the Clean Clothes Campaign on the process for calculating and delivering compensation to Tazreen victims. Details of the process are still under discussion, but it is expected to be based on key elements of the Rana Plaza Arrangement, using the same method of calculation and the provision of medical assessments to all survivors.
The Clean Clothes Campaign is now calling on other Tazreen buyers, including Walmart, Kik and El Corte Ingles, to ensure full compensation by pledging to a fund to finance these payments.
In November 2012 at least 112 workers died and hundreds were severely injured in yet another devastating fire at the nine-storey Tazreen Fashions factory located in Ashulia, Dhaka in Bangladesh. Tazreen Fashions in Dhaka produced garments for well-known brands including C&A, KiK, Walmart, Disney, Dickies and ENYCE.
Workers say that at the time of the fire they had just completed a shipment to Walmart, which was the main buyer of garments made at Tazreen. “Walmart has yet to take any responsibility for the workers killed and injured,” said Babul Akhter from the IndustriALL affiliate BGIWF (Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation) in November 2014.
The fire started on the ground floor due to an electrical fault, and quickly spread through the building, which had over 1,100 workers inside. Survivors report that they were ordered to keep working after the alarm went off, and that managers even turned up the radio volume to mask the sound of the alarm. When panic started to spread, workers on the upper floors found out that it had become impossible to escape through the main exit, which was located on ground level where the fire had started. The lights failed and the factory quickly filled with smoke and heat, making it almost impossible to find a way out.
There were insufficient fire escapes, resulting in workers jumping out of the windows of the burning building. Others were burned alive, many of them beyond recognition. Ninety-nine of the bodies have been identified, and the names of 24 missing people have been submitted to the court for investigation.
Tazreen Fashions owner Delwar Hossain, who was imprisoned for his role in and responsibility for the tragedy, was released from jail after obtaining bail from the High Court in July 2014.
Compensation and disclosure
The Clean Clothes Campaign worked with Bangladeshi partners, the Maquila Solidarity Network, the International Labor Rights Forum and the Worker Rights Consortium to follow up with the buyers in order to ensure compensation for the victims and their families. The disclosure of reports of audits before the fire and of investigation reports after the fire is also being demanded.
As a result, C&A agreed to pay short-term compensation to families and injured workers, to ensure that all medical costs will be paid, and to provide some long-term compensation to some of the families of deceased workers. Other brands have contributed some money to compensate the families in the short term.
Agreement on Tazreen compensation announced
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Still waiting: an update on Tazreen and Rana Plaza, October 2013 (PDF)
One year after Tazreen fire, the fight for justice continues