The complaint concerns the (partial) responsibility of three German garment retail companies for the Tazreen factory fire in Bangladesh in November 2012, which caused 112 deaths and injured 300. The high number of casualties was exacerbated by poor fire safety and a lack of emergency exits.
The complainants allege that as customers of the textiles produced in the Tazreen factory, the companies are partly responsible for the poor safety and working conditions that exist. They argue that the companies are not fulfilling their obligations towards workers within their global supply chain and that the remedial measures taken by the companies after the fire are insufficient.
The complainants call on the companies to ensure that their suppliers improve fire protection and pay compensation to families of the victims and others affected. Furthermore, the complainants call on the companies to pay fair wages, enter into dialogue with trade unions, and conduct due diligence in their supply chains.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Chapter II
- Chapter II Paragraph A10
- Chapter II Paragraph A12
- Chapter II Paragraph A13
- Chapter IV
- Chapter IV Paragraph 2
- Chapter IV Paragraph 3
- Chapter IV Paragraph 5
The German NCP accepted the complaints against Karl Rieker and KiK and forwarded the C&A case to the Brazilian NCP. The Brazilian NCP still has not issued an initial assessment.
In May 2013, Karl Rieker and KiK submitted responses to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC). C&A declined to respond, citing the confidentiality requirements of the specific instance process.
The German NCP accepted the complaints against Karl Rieker and KiK with regard to companies due diligence requirements to ensure the safety of workers at the Tazreen factory. As the C&A entity doing business with Tazreen is registered in Brazil, the German NCP forwarded the case to the Brazilian NCP, which accepted the case in October 2013.
In May 2013, Karl Rieker and KiK submitted responses to the complaint. The companies highlighted measures they had taken after the case had been filed. C&A declined to publically respond, citing the confidentiality requirements of the specific instance process.
Beginning in January 2014, the Germany NCP facilitated mediation between the parties. The NCPs November 2014 final statement includes an agreement between the complainant and Karl Rieker expressing satisfaction with the precautionary measures taken by Karl Rieker to improve fire protection and safety standards of its suppliers in Bangladesh. The complainant was not satisfied that KiK had fulfilled its due diligence requirements so no agreement was signed. The C&A case is still pending at the Brazilian NCP.
On 3 December 2014, the Brazilian NCP accepted the complaint, but refused mediation stating that the complainant lived in another country which would make it impossible. The NCP reported that the rapporteur of the Secretariat of Human Rights questioned whether the actions of C&A to minimize the impacts of the fire would spare the Brazilian subsidiary of needing to remedy the damage done. During meetings with the NCP, C&A claimed that they were taking measures to improve their due diligence and claimed that the fire was against C&A’s code of conduct, which is why the contract with the Tuba Group was terminated shortly afterwards. The NCP was going to close the case, but the complainant then requested a new set of recommendations, suggesting that C&A should establish long-term relationships with its contractors to ensure sustainability and if it were to do so, the complainant would consider the case ending with agreement. However, C&A never responded to the NCP regarding the request. The NCP then decided to conclude the case in November 2016.