CCC calls upon Solo Invest, KIK and Fox and Scott to contribute to compensation for SMART fire victims

CCC welcomes the agreement that was reached between unions in Bangladesh (IndustriALL Bangladesh) and global brands Inditex and New Look on the compensation for the families of 8 workers who died in a fire at Smart Fashions on the 26th of January this year. The workers were young women, six of them aged between 16 and 20 years old.

The agreement to compensate the families of the workers follows international standards and earlier precedent in the Bangladesh garment industry   by covering future income based on lost wages as well as damages. Under the agreement each family receives 1,049,000 BDT (13,300 USD), and one family with two minor children gets an additional 10 per cent to meet educational costs for minor children. The payment is shared by Inditex and New Look. In addition employers’ associations Bangladesh Garment Manufactures & Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) each pay 100,000 BDT (1,270 USD) to every family. Reportedly the Bangladeshi government committed itself to announcing their package “very soon”.

Outstanding is the contribution from the other brands whose labels were uncovered in the wreckage after the fire. Thus far these brands have refused to take responsibility for the tragedy and the compensation of the victims. KiK has denied that their jeans were produced at Smart Fashions, Fox and Scott claims that they are not producing in Bangladesh. Although Solo Invest stated it was willing to address safety issues in Bangladesh, the company so far has not given any response regarding its production at Smart Export and the measures it is willing to take to contribute to the victims compensation.

Based on established compensation schemes in Bangladesh, Bangladeshi unions have calculated that the total amount of compensation for workers who die in garment factory fires, should be at least 2.6 million taka. In addition, education costs for orphans should be covered as well. Brands, employers, employers associations and the government are expected to contribute to this amount.

The reaction of KIK, Solo Invest and Fox and Scott is in marked contrast with New Look and Inditex who also shared with CCC that they were not aware of any production at Smart Fashions, but nevertheless engaged and paid their share of compensation to the victims. Compare this response with KIK, who so far refuses to acknowledge that the most likely explanation for the discovery of the labels is that one of their other suppliers was subcontracting to Smart Fashions, a factory that was unregistered and only doing subcontract orders. KIK has gone as far as  threatening the German CCC with legal action if they publicly connect KIK to Smart Fashions, money that could have been spent on compensating the victims or preventing new fires from happening in Bangladesh.

KIK also was sourcing from Tazreen Fashions, where 112 workers died in November last year, and for which compensation is still outstanding.

In addition, it is not enough to compensate the victims when disaster has already occurred. CCC also calls upon the brands sourcing from Smart to prevent future deaths. Both Inditex and Solo Invest were sourcing from the Spectrum factory where 64 workers were killed 8 years ago.

Any measures taken since to prevent future incidents have clearly failed. CCC calls upon all  brands sourcing in Bangladesh to join the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement. The purpose of the Agreement, which has been signed by PVH, owner of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, and German retailer Tchibo, is to prevent and correct the dangerous fire and safety risks that have now resulted in more than 700 worker deaths over the past decade.