Target must contribute to compensation for Bangladesh factory fire victims: Oxfam

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 10 Oct 2013

Oxfam is calling on Target Australia to compensate the families of the victims and those injured from the Bangladesh factory fire in Gazipur that killed 10 people and injured an estimated 50 others on Tuesday.

The Aswad Composite Mills factory that burnt down made fabric for Target in Australia, and Woolworths has said it may also have sourced fabric from the factory.

Oxfam Australia’s Corporate Accountability Advisor Daisy Gardener said Target and any other company sourcing from the factory should contribute to compensation for the injured and the families of the deceased.

“This latest tragedy highlights yet again that the business models used by many companies – demanding speedy, flexible production at low prices – helps create poor and often dangerous conditions in supplier factories,” Ms Gardener said.

“Earlier this year, Target took the important step of signing on to the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord, which mandates independent safety inspections and repairs to unsafe factories.

“However, the Accord is still in its infancy, with independent safety inspections to be rolled out over the next eight months across the 1600 factories that are covered by the agreement.”

She said the Accord was designed to pick up fire and safety hazards and stop them before they ended in tragedy.

“Signing on to the Accord is an important step, however companies still have an obligation to ensure that the workers making their goods are not risking their lives in unsafe conditions,” Ms Gardener said.

“This latest fire underscores the importance of the Accord, as without it, there would be no truly independent monitoring now or into the future.”

Ms Gardener urged all those sourcing from the factory – including Target Australia and Woolworths – to work together to provide compensation, lost wages and medical treatment to those families and individuals affected by this fire.

“This fire should also be a big wake up call for Woolworths, which has been saying publicly since June that it intends to sign on to the Accord,” she said.

“Promises are not enough – they need to sign onto the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord now.”

Unlike Kmart, neither Target nor Woolworths have committed to publish the locations of their factories.   Kmart has promised they will make public their list of suppliers.

“Supplier transparency is key to enabling independent verification of safety and conditions for workers,” Ms Gardener said.

Since the Rana Plaza disaster almost six months ago, more than 90 brands have joined the legally-binding Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which aims to tackle the root causes of factory collapses and fires and is jointly governed by brands and trade unions.

For interviews please contact Laurelle Keough on 0425 701 801