The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), together with FEMNET, medico international, Garment Workers Unity Forum, the Comrade Rubel Memorial Center, and survivors of the Rana Plaza Factory collapse, filed a complaint against TÜV Rheinland AG and its subsidiary TÜV Rheinland India Pvt. Ltd. for carrying out an inadequate social audit of a factory in the Rana Plaza building in June 2012 and breaching the OECD Guidelines in the process. The complainants allege that TÜV Rheinland India Pvt. Ltd. failed to accurately report on the various labor rights violations occurring at the Phantom Apparels Ltd. factory and described the construction quality of the building in the report as being good.
Phantom Apparel was located within the Rana Plaza Factory, which collapsed less than a year after the audit and killed 1,138 people, including at least 39 children, while injuring 2,500 people. Some of the human rights violations occurring in the factory at the time included child labor, discrimination against women, the absence of trade unions and forced overtime.
The complainants asked the German NCP to make an assessment of the company’s breach of the OECD Guidelines and facilitate mediation with TÜV Rheinland. The complainants seek financial compensation from TÜV Rheinland to cover psychological treatment to the victims of the Rana Plaza Factory collapse, as well as the company’s commitment to work with the Bangladesh Government and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association to strengthen national auditing liability legislation and change the structure of factory controls.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Chapter II
- Chapter II Paragraph A10
- Chapter II Paragraph A11
- Chapter II Paragraph A12
- Chapter IV
- Chapter IV Paragraph 2
- Chapter IV Paragraph 3
- Chapter IV Paragraph 5
- Chapter VI
- Chapter VI Paragraph 1 c
On 26 June 2018, the German NCP concluded its initial assessment and on 1 August 2016 it transmitted this to the parties. The German NCP extended an offer of mediation, finding that the issues raised by the complainants were related to application of the Guidelines and warranted further consideration.
The parties accepted the NCP’s offer of mediation. After some initial dialogue, the German NCP set out three points to be used in a potential agreement:
–Creating a common understanding on the value and potential of social audits and how to use them appropriately;
–Establishing a forward-looking moderated dialogue on social audits within a multi-stakeholder forum;
–A humanitarian gesture by Respondents, which both parties agree could not be interpreted in any way as an admission of guilt by Respondents.
The parties engaged in intensive dialogue, but did not reach agreement.
The German NCP finalized its final statement on 26 June 2018 and shared it with the parties on 5 July 2018. The complainants felt the NCP acknowledged the need for reform of factory audits in the textile industry. The NCP recommended a dialogue with audit companies, standard setting organizations, brands, factories and trade unions to address transparency of audit reports and whether factory owners should pay for audits. The complainants felt the NCP took a clear stance on the measures audit firms could already implement, such as the stronger involvement of worker representatives.
- Company in violation
- Other companies involved
- Affected people