On the occasion of the second anniversary of the deadly Tazreen Fashions fire incident, international rights body Human Rights Watch has slated the global clothing brands tied to the garment factory for not providing the injured workers and families of the dead with full and fair compensation.
"The victims of Tazreen, like those of the Rana Plaza tragedy, need a huge amount of support. Many of the survivors might have escaped the flames, but their lives are ruined. These global brands should no longer dodge their duty to help these people," Brad Adams, Asia Director of the watchdog, said in a statement issued on Monday.
The tragedy that took the lives of at least 112 workers on November 24, 2012 is still a stumbling block for the survivors and families of the deceased persons in leading even an ordinary life.
According to the government statement posted on Ministry of Labour and Employment, among the injured workers in Tajreen fire incident 15 persons were given Tk 50,000 each as grant from the Relief and Welfare Fund of the Prime Minister. In addition to that, 90 injured workers were given Tk 100,000 each and the medical expenses of injured workers treated in different hospitals were borne by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters' Association (BGMEA).
Prime Minister has given Tk 700,000 in bank cheques to the families of 99 identified dead workers who died in the fire incident. The amount was arranged by Relief and Welfare Fund of the Prime Minister, Labour Welfare Foundation Fund of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, BGMEA, Bangladesh Bankers Association and two other buyers' organizations, mentions the statement issued on February 25 this year.
Sirajul Islam Rony, President of Bangladesh National Garment Workers Employees League, said the government and the BGMEA should take steps to rehabilitate victims taking into consideration their physical conditions.
HRW said, "Only two out of 16 firms linked to the factory are believed to have paid any meaningful amount of compensation to the victims. Five companies have paid nothing, claiming the factory was making or storing their products without their knowledge or authorization. Other companies have offered undisclosed charitable donations.
The watchdog stated that in November 2013, it wrote to five companies whose products were in some way associated with the Tazreen Factory, but to date Dickies (USA,) Sears (USA), Disney (USA), Teddy Smith (France), and Walmart (USA) have not replied.
"Companies should not claim that just because they did not know their products were in Tazreen they have no responsibility to the victims," Adams said.
"The UN Guiding Principles categorically state that all firms have a responsibility to conduct due diligence throughout their supply chain, and provide a remedy to anyone affected by human rights violations."
Bangladeshi activists who entered Tazreen Fashions after the fire also found labels, clothing, and documentation connected to C&A (Belgium), Edinburgh Woollen Mill (UK), El Corte Ingles (Spain), Sean Combs/Enyce (US), Karl Rieker (Germany), KiK (Germany), Li & Fung (Hong Kong), and Piazza Italia (Italy), HRW said. The body stated that it wrote each of these companies in November 2013, but one year later, none have replied.
Only two of the brands, Europe's C&A and Li and Fung of Honk Kong, are believed to have made meaningful attempts to compensate the survivors and relatives of those who died, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign.