New York, Dec 16 — The survivors of a Bangladesh factory fire, which killed 112 garment workers last year, are still suffering from their injuries and loss of income and have not received adequate compensation, Human Rights Watch said Monday.
The brands that were sourcing garments from Tazreen Fashions should immediately join an International Labour Organization effort to fund full and fair compensation to all the injured and the families of the dead.
In recent interviews with workers and relatives of two missing workers, many told Human Rights Watch that a year after the Nov 24 fire, they had received no compensation.
Survivors said that they have been forced to sell off their possessions to pay for treatment.
One said her husband was now begging for money. Others said they could not afford medical care, could no longer work, and were continually in pain.
“One year after the Tazreen fire, victims are still suffering and waiting for adequate compensation,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Many retailers with production at the factory have not yet helped a group of very poor workers and their families.”
In the months leading up to the fire, Tazreen’s workers made clothes for prominent international retailers including Walmart, Sears, Karl Reiker, and Teddy Smith.
Each company later said that garments were produced at Tazreen without their knowledge.
Human Rights Watch wrote letters to these and 16 other companies seeking clarification of their connection with Tazreen, but none have responded.
Workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that on the day of the fire, Tazreen Fashions was on deadline to fulfill a big order.
Managers, they alleged, initially ordered people to stay at work even after fire alarms sounded.
They also claimed that some factory personnel locked the exits on several floors of the building, while exit routes were blocked by stock prepared for delivery.
Meaningful compensation has so far only been provided by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the Bangladesh government, the European retailer C&A, and Li and Fung of Hong Kong.
But injured workers who received 100,000 Taka ($1,267) each told Human Rights Watch that the money was insufficient and ran out after the first few months.
Some survivors who were badly injured as they jumped out of the burning factory said that they had not received anything because they were not healthy enough to claim the compensation package provided by the BGMEA.
Others said that the officials handling compensation claims did not believe them despite their injuries.