Edinburgh Woollen Mill: Candle lit vigils call for justice

vigilActivists held candlelight vigils in front of Edinburgh Woollen Mill stores across the UK in the week before Christmas to call for justice for the victims of a factory fire in Bangladesh that claimed the lives of over 100 people. Labels from Edinburgh Woollen Mill were found in the burnt wreckage of the Tazreen Fashions factory in Dhaka that caught fire on 24 November killing at least 112 workers.

Candle lit vigils took place in busy shopping streets in Edinburgh, Bath and Stamford, and aimed to draw attention to the tragedy and elicit a response from brand management.

Labour Behind the Label is calling on Edinburgh Woollen Mill, and other buyers from the Tazreen Fashions factory, to pay full compensation to the victims and their families, and take steps to prevent future tragedies in the industry.

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“With these vigils we want to pay respect to the victims who gave their lives in this pointless tragedy,” said Sam Maher, Labour Behind the Label. “We are dismayed at the indifference showed to these workers by Edinburgh Woollen Mill and call on them to act now to support the families of those killed. Companies such as Edinburgh Woollen Mill, who are sourcing from Bangladesh must join with unions and labour rights groups to ensure the root causes of these fires are addressed and that no more lives are lost.”

Investigators in Bangladesh found PG Field and Country Rose labels, both owned by Edinburgh Woollen Mill, at the devestated factory the day after the fire. EWM have confirmed that they were sourcing from Tuba Group, the company which owns the Tazreen factory. Labels from their Hippo brand were also found. C&A, Walmart (including George) and sourcing agent Li&Fung have so far confirmed that their production was taking place at Tazreen at the time of the fire. Other companies who have confirmed sourcing from Tazreen in the past year include El Corte Inglés and the German discounter KIK.

To prevent future tragedies, we are calling on brands to sign on to the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, developed prior to the tragedy by Bangladeshi and global unions and labour rights organizations. The agreement provides, amongst other actions, for independent inspections of supplier factories, public reporting, mandatory repairs and renovations, a central role for workers and unions in both oversight and implementation, supplier contracts with sufficient financing and adequate pricing, and a binding contract to make these commitments enforceable. Companies PvH (Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein) and Tchibo have already signed this agreement.

In addition to compensation to the families of the deceased for damages and loss of earnings, the brands are expected to provide compensation for injured workers, cover costs of emergency relief and medical treatment and to compensate loss of earnings suffered by workers recovering from injuries and for those left unemployed as a result of the fire.

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