Another example of mounting pressure on multinational companies to be accountable for working conditions at sub-contracting operations based abroad. On 12 September, German discount textile store KiK revealed it would pay out 5.1 million dollars to victims of a fire, which took place at a textile factory owned by one of it subcontractors, Ali Enterprises in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2012. The agreement was reached together with a number of NGOs, the international trade union IndustriAll Global Union, and the Pakistani National Trade Union Federation, the NTUF. However, KiK specified that the payment is not covering any damages, with the company maintaining that is does not take responsibility for the incident; clearly not an opinion shared by several German NGOs that initiated the action against KiK in a bid to render it directly responsible for the fire that broke out at its sub-contractor site. At the end of August, The Dortmund High Court (Rhineland) declared itself competent both to rule on a complaint filed by four Pakistani nationals against the KiK, and to take into account Pakistani law. The Court also decided to accord the complainants legal aid.
KiK agreed to pay out an additional 5.1 million dollars to the families of the 250 individuals who perished in the disaster, and to 50 injured employees. This adds to the 1 million dollars that the company had earlier paid into an emergency fund. 700,000 dollars will also be paid by Pakistani social insurance schemes and the factory owner, Ali Enterprises. This brings the total payout to 6.6 million dollars. The ILO, along with local organizations that are involved (NGOs, trade unions, associations representing the victims), will be tasked with allocating the money into monthly payments, starting in 2017 at the earliest. The agreement with KiK clearly underlines that this money does not represent compensation for the pain and suffering of the victims.
Yet it was precisely to obtain recognition of direct responsibility that the contractor that the NGOs have turned to the German courts. They scored a victory point when last August, the Dortmund High Court (Rhineland) declared itself competent to rule on a complaint filed by victims of the fire that broke out at the sub-contractor site in Pakistan. The Dortmund High Court also decided to accord the complainants legal aid. KiK has stated it is calmly awaiting the outcome of the procedure and that it is satisfied that its full responsibility in the catastrophe will be clarified.