Garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh

WASHINGTON — A $2.5 million compensation fund paid into by apparel brands and retailers to help victims of the Tazreen Fashions garment factory fire in Bangladesh has been completely distributed, two labor rights groups said Friday.

Several brands and retailers paid into the fund, including C&A Foundation and Fung Foundation, each contributing $1 million, according to the International Labor Rights Forum and Clean Clothes Campaign.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. gave $250,000, while German retailer Kik and Spanish store chain El Corte Ingles contributed smaller amounts, the groups said.

The fund, known as the Tazreen Claims Administration Trust, was established in the aftermath of the fire that tore through Tazreen Fashions in Bangladesh on Nov. 24, 2012, killing 113 workers and injuring nearly 200. It was set up as a result of an agreement signed by C&A, C&A’s foundation, IndustriALL Global Union and Clean Clothes to cover medical and other costs for injured workers and families of the deceased. Brands that sourced from Tazreen were pressed to donate to the fund, the labor groups said.

The ILRF and CCC pointed to a large group of brands and retailers that they said sourced from Tazreen but “failed to contribute” to the fund.

By the end of June, the fund had distributed a total of $2.17 million to 582 family members of 103 deceased workers and 10 missing workers, in addition to 174 workers who continue to suffer from injuries as a result of the fire. The payments from the fund were on top of payments made by the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s fund.

The trust’s work to calculate and collect claims, make medical assessments and distribute payments is now complete, the groups said.

“We are pleased that the injured workers and families of the deceased have finally received these payments, which will keep them out of the most dire forms of poverty, although the payments are based on the very low wages common in the garment industry, and therefore remain relatively small,” said Liana Foxvog, director of organizing and communications at the ILRF.

The one remaining task of the fund is to ensure ongoing medical treatment for workers still suffering physical and psychological injuries, the groups said. To that end, $350,000 will be transferred to a separate trust in Dhaka that will provide treatment referral services to workers injured in Tazreen, as well as the Rana Plaza collapse, a second industrial tragedy in April 2013 that claimed the lives of 1,133 people and injured hundreds of others.

The ILRF and CCC said the claims process that was established for the Tazreen fire will serve as a model of payment for workers involved in any future disasters.

“The achievement of fair and transparent payments to the Tazreen workers is something to celebrate,” said Samantha Maher of the Clean Clothes Campaign.

The groups, while claiming victory with the claims process, said the struggle of the Tazreen families is “far from over.” They said they continue to await the prosecution of Delwar Hossain, the owner of Tazreen.

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