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Factory fire firm offers less than €1,500 a death
Kik manager Michael Arretz. Photo: DPA

Factory fire firm offers less than €1,500 a death

Published: 23 Oct 2012 15:00 GMT+02:00
Updated: 23 Oct 2012 15:00 GMT+02:00

German discount clothing firm Kik, which was the main contractor at a Pakistani factory where more than 259 people died in a fire last month, has set up a fund for the victims – offering less than €1,500 per dead worker.

The firm only admitted having a connection with the disaster after non-governmental organisations revealed it was an important contractor for Ali Enterprises, which ran the factory.

Kik stocked its shops on high streets across Germany with €15.99-a-pair jeans made at the Karachi factory, where around 1,500 people worked across three storeys with just four exits and a serious lack of basic safety measures.

It burned to the ground in early September, killing more than 259 workers who were trapped inside and leaving their families destitute.

After Kik was named as a potential customer, it emerged that the company was actually the major contractor of Ali Enterprises, Der Spiegel reported on Tuesday.

Kik has admitted issuing 75 percent of the firm’s contracts, while workers at Ali Enterprises say “at least 90 percent” of their work was for the German discounter, the magazine said.

And although Kik has put $500,000 into a compensation fund for the families of those who died, this has attracted condemnation from Pakistani trades unions – it works out to $1,930 or less then €1,500, for each person who died.

“That is damn little,” said Nasir Mansoor from the Pakistani association of trades unions NTUF. “And we also don’t know when and via whom the payments will be made.”

He said if the money on offer is not increased, relatives and survivors would sue Kik.

Kik manager Michael Arretz has been trying to improve the firm’s image over the last couple of years, Der Spiegel said.

He has made assurances that the compensation fund would go to families, particularly those affected who had not been given any support by the Pakistani government, which has promised around €5,500 to those who lost relatives.

Many families have complained they have received nothing, while those who have been given cheques say they either bounce – or that they do not have bank accounts in which to cash them.

There remains confusion about how many people actually died in the fire – with 63 still registered as missing, trades unions say more than 300 died. Twenty-nine bodies remain unidentified.

Arretz told Der Spiegel he had had difficulty organising the payments as the company did not have a suitable agent on the ground, but that there was now someone in place.

The unions in Karachi say Kik knew about the terrible safety standards at the factory, including blocked escape routes and sealed windows. Many of the people working there had no contracts, making it difficult for those who were hurt in the fire – and those whose relatives perished – to prove they were there.

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Your comments about this article

17:14 October 23, 2012 by lucksi
1500 Euro over there is like 50k here?

And why is Kik paying at all? It's not their factory, now is it? Is my biggest customer who is responsible for over 60% of my factories contracts responsible if a death or several occur in my factory? I somehow don't think so. And I doubt his company will be if he ever buys over 75% of my output.
19:32 October 23, 2012 by raandy
I am not sure of the buying power of less than 1500 euros ,what ever that is. it seems cheep to me.
19:47 October 23, 2012 by Englishted
I am inclined to agree why is it the customer's fault ?,if Pakistan can spend money on a nuclear bomb they can spend some protecting their workers too much to hope for same as India with it's space program.
20:47 October 23, 2012 by jamesbondking
@Englishted .... dude this article was abt pakistan and NOT INDIA .

u better stick to the topic and dont deviate ....

as ur name suggests , u english looted and plundered all the money from india and what makes u jealous of indias space program.

its indias money and we can spend it where we want . dont worry about the poor and the toilets in india , we have more billionaires then ur whole population .

so kindly dont deviate from the topic .

indians have given the world so much from decimal number system , to chess , ayurveda , yoga and many more .
20:58 October 23, 2012 by Englishted
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
21:11 October 23, 2012 by marimay
I dunno.. from what I could tell, poor people in India eat better than McDonalds/ junk food/ bland cuisine loving westerners.

Anyway... on topic. We need to stop sending jobs to other countries where we know they don't take care of their own, just to save a buck.
21:16 October 23, 2012 by ishq
i think its a good move, kik cannot bring back the dead people.all those died belong to very poor families. some were the only earning person in the whole family .

1500 euros will be around 183000 pakistani rupees. which will help them to begin a new life.. as federal governament and lcoal govt. also promised to help them out.

hopefully they will be able to come out of this trauma.

as far as pakistan atom bomb and indian space programme are concerened, they dont relate to this topic.

regards
21:27 October 23, 2012 by jamesbondking
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
22:18 October 23, 2012 by zene
The reason why kik should also support those affected: civilization and humanity are not centred around business. No amount of compensation can make up for the lives lost, but i still appreciate that fact that kik stood up to its moral responsibility. The amount offered, and the reasons that drove kik to offer compensation are different topics.

@jamesbondking & Englishted: i dont believe you have contributed anything to either English language or decimal number system or whatever stuff you guys are fighting over. Please stop holding yourselves as your nation's representatives.. it embarrasses us.
22:35 October 23, 2012 by jamesbondking
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
23:07 October 23, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
1,5000 for a death. That is about what they pay in Germany for blatant failure to care for employees and the public. Don't point fingers from Germany when relatively speaking Germany is no better.
14:08 October 24, 2012 by Manasa
The factory was set under fire because of lack of safety measures.They dont have certifications like ISI,BSCI,SA etc...If the factory would have had all these , then the workers would have survived now.

We should not blame the factory.There are lot of Factories all over Asia who work without safety measures.The brands like KIK,Lidl,Aldi must not work with these factories as its like putting the workers life on risk.

We should blame KIK to this issue as they have chosen a factory only for the price issues.Just imagine if the Kids T-shirts are sold for 3€ what will be the Buying price?1€ maximum with added import+freight charges it would be 1.30 € maximum.....

So also think about the garment quality first when you buy them for cheap rates.....
14:47 October 24, 2012 by 231555725
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
16:40 October 24, 2012 by Englishted
The safety standards are a lot lower on the sub-Continent ,with the governments not investing in the heath of their respective nations ,I think it is a nice gesture to payout the money as it can't be the responsibility of the customer as to the fire safety . @Manasa you raise some valid points but the respective cost of a item is not the judge as to where it is made or the conditions of the workforce look if you will at the "designer" names that use sweatshops yet charge a vast price for the finished article because of the name.
14:06 October 25, 2012 by Manasa
@Englishted

yes you are right.There are many high end fashion brands who buy the garments from Asia cheaply.But i would like to add a point that these brands work only with the factories which has cleared the auditing with Standards as i have specified in my above statement.C&A is also offers reasonable rates, but they work with only the factories that has passed all the safety rules and regulations....Thats make a difference now.
20:31 October 25, 2012 by Englishted
@Manasa

Fair enough ,I didn't intend question your points just seeking clarity .
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