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French retailer sued over Rana Plaza collapse

  • Published at 02:58 pm April 25th, 2014

A judicial complaint has been filed against French supermarket giant Auchan, in the first of such cases in Europe, in the wake of the deadly Rana Plaza collapse that took the lives of some 1,136 people.

Sherpa, a non profit organisation for the "victims of economic crimes," Peuples Solidaires (People's Solidarity), and the Ethique sur l'etiquette (Ethics on Labels) collective, have jointly filed the case, reported The Local.

The three lobby groups, in the complaint that filed with a public prosecutor in France, accused Auchun of misleading customers about working conditions overseas and claims that an investigation found labels from the chain's "In Extenso" range in the rubble.

However, Auchan said it had never placed any orders at the Rana Plaza garments factory in Dhaka, which collapsed on April 24 last year after a catastrophic structural failure, leaving 1,136 people dead.

The lobby group has claimed that a number of witnesses - including some in Bangladesh - were available to provide evidence, and have called for the prosecutor to carry out a preliminary investigation as soon as possible.

Auchan, which operates in more than a dozen countries and had sales of over 48 billion euros ($66 billion) last year, said it did not wish to comment on a complaint that it had not yet seen.

However, in a statement to AFP, it said: "We never sent orders to Rana Plaza and there was no direct, or indirect, link between Auchan and the businesses on the site."

The company said it had made "a number of changes" in response to the disaster, including signing an agreement with 158 international companies which aims to improve the safety for textile factory workers in Bangladesh.

It has also launched an action plan against undeclared sub-contracting.