Victims and families of the Tazreen Fashions fire will receive a package under the same system developed to compensate Rana Plaza victims, as one retailer has just agreed to pay, a full two years after the incident.
"We are extremely pleased to be able to announce that we and IndustriALL have reached an outline agreement with C&A on the principles of a compensation process,” said Ineke Zeldenrust from rights group Clean Clothes Campaign. Dutch retail giant C&A used to source garment items from Tazreen Fashions.
“The system will be the same as that followed for the Rana Plaza victims. It covers compensation for loss of income, provision of independent medical assessments and ongoing treatment,” Zeldenrust said.
In case of the Rana Plaza incident, victims were promised compensation under the ILO Convention 121, which allowed a dead victim's beneficiary to receive nearly Tk 29 lakh and a permanently disabled victim to receive nearly Tk 42 lakh.
But most victims received around Tk 10 lakh, much lower than the promised amount, as all retailers are yet to contribute to the $40 million Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund.
The fire at Tazreen Fashions, a clothing factory supplying to global brands, killed 112 workers at Ashulia in Savar on November 24, 2012.
For two years, these workers have faced destitution and ongoing medical problems as a result of the fire, Clean Clothes Campaign said in a statement.
Recent negotiations facilitated by International Labour Organisation helped to form the agreement on the compensation principles, the rights group said.
Details of the programme will be finalised soon, with the hope that compensation will finally be delivered, the statement said.
The agreement was reached between IndustriALL Global Union and their local affiliates, Clean Clothes Campaign and C&A.
So far, the Tazreen Fashions victims received three months' salaries and overtime allowance from Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the garment makers' platform. The workers also received Tk 1 lakh as compensation from a government fund.
The C&A has now pledged to contribute a significant amount towards full and fair compensation for Tazreen victims, in addition to the funds that have already been committed.
The final details of the pledge will be worked out and made public once the cost of the package is finalised.
"We welcome the positive role that C&A has played in this process, which has been instrumental in getting this agreement,” Zeldenrust said. The rights advocate also asked other brands associated with the burned factory to join the effort.
Workers said at the time of the fire, they had just completed a shipment to Walmart, who was the factory's main buyer.
“Walmart is yet to take any responsibility for the workers killed and injured,” said Babul Akhter from IndustriALL affiliate BGIWF (Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation), in the statement.
Tazreen workers also produced clothing for German retailer Kik, Spanish departmental store El Corte Ingles, Scottish brand Edinburgh Woollen Mill (UK), Piazza Italia, Disney, Sears, Dickies, Delta Apparel and Sean John.
None of these brands has paid a cent towards compensation, the Clean Clothes Campaign said.
Hong Kong-based Li & Fung, the world's largest sourcing agent, and the C&A Foundation have made some payments through the Bangladesh government.
El Corte Ingles and Kik have made informal promises so far, and the rights group has asked for those to be turned into concrete, public pledges soon.