At least seven workers lost their lives and more than 50 were injured in the blaze at Aswad Composite Mills

At least seven workers lost their lives and more than 50 were injured in the blaze at Aswad Composite Mills

An international alliance has renewed its call for brands to provide compensation to the victims and families of those killed in the Aswad textile mill fire in Bangladesh, on the fourth anniversary of the disaster.

The fire broke out at the Aswad Composite Mills on 8 October 2013, six months after the Rana Plaza collapse. At least seven workers lost their lives and more than 50 were injured in the blaze, which is thought to have been caused by a faulty machine and took place when 170 evening-shift employees were at the facility.

On the anniversary of the incident, the Clean Clothes Campaign says the families and survivors still remain without full compensation. It is urging the brands sourcing from the factory, including H&M, C&A and Primark, to "ensure these families finally receive the compensation they should have been provided with so many years ago."

"Compensation offered by the factory owner fell far below that received by victims of earlier disasters, including the Tazreen factory fire and the Rana Plaza collapse," Clean Clothes Campaign says. "While justifiably most efforts to ensure compensation went to these larger tragedies, the plight of the Aswad families, which is no less important, has been largely ignored.

"In these earlier cases brands – including many of those sourcing from Aswad – did provide compensation after international pressure. The provision of such payments, however, should not depend on the media interest or public outcry a particular incident provokes. There are no excuses for refusing to take the same steps for these families."

Clean Clothes Campaign wants brands to support a more permanent "bridging solution" solution for providing compensation, facilitated by the International Labour Organization (ILO), which it says will help bring Bangladesh closer to a national level employment injury scheme that will protect all workers.

Calls for a consistent approach to worker compensation

The CCC believes Aswad should be the pilot case for such a scheme, which would calculate and distribute the payments contributed by international buyers, based on international standards laid down in ILO Convention 121.

It suggests the same system could also be used to compensation victims of more recent tragedies, including the fires at the Tampaco factory in 2016 and the Multifabs and Ideal Mills factories earlier this year.