German retailer KiK has defended its position amid ongoing pressure from a coalition of trade union and labour rights groups for it to agree long-term compensation for the victims of a deadly clothing factory fire in Pakistan three years ago.

KiK was the only known buyer of garments from the Ali Enterprises factory, where a fire killed at least 254 workers and injured 55 others in 2012. Its production was dedicated to making jeans for KiK’s own brand Okay Men.

Global unions IndustriAll and Uni, together with the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), last week claimed that although KiK paid US$1m into an immediate relief fund, its claim that victims received “several million US dollars [from] the Pakistani government, the factory owner and a private individual” is incorrect.

In response, Kik said it had approached the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research (PILER) to deal with the situation on the ground independently. The parties involved, Kik said, agreed to act on the company's behalf and continue negotiations with all involved stakeholders.

“This was supposed to happen with the participation of the government, the employer, the audit institutes and other possible buyers of Ali Enterprises,” the company said in an open letter this week. “To our knowledge, in the meantime, some of these parties have made payments to the victims and their families as well.”

Kik addressed a number of issues raised by the coalition, explaining it is happy to enter into dialogue with the relevant parties to work out the final compensation and aid package for the victims.

But instead of opening negotiations with all parties, the company says PILER has only called on KiK to pay a million lump sum for long-term compensation, and has not yet provided any transparency as to the allocation of the disbursed funds.

Kik also addressed claims the company was legally responsible for the tragedy. “This, however, is wrong. As was laid out in the expert legal opinion of a trained Pakistani lawyer in the present court proceedings in Dortmund, there is no such legal responsibility. KiK did what was appropriate under the given circumstances. We welcome the opportunity for a judicial examination to dispel the charges once and for all,” it said.

The German retailer says it has been ready to begin the investigation process with PILER to finalise the process of compensation payments, and has also made budget reservations to pay US$250,000 to local labour organisations and labour support groups.

“It was PILER’s contractual obligation to point out such organisations until the end of 2013. PILER has done nothing to meet its obligation, which is why KiK has decided to use the money for self-initiated worker fire prevention training in Pakistani factories producing on behalf of KiK,” the company explained.

“You invite KiK to return to the negotiation table. However, we did not leave it," the company says. But it adds: "Out of respect towards a German court, however, we should all now await its ruling.” This ongoing court case for compensation was filed by victims against KiK in Germany earlier this year.