Amazon is one of the retailers accused of failing its corporate due diligence © Photo by Christian Ender/Getty Images
Amazon is one of the retailers accused of failing its corporate due diligence © Photo by Christian Ender/Getty Images

First complaint filed under German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act

26 April 2023

Industry groups have filed a complaint against Amazon, Ikea and Tom Tailor over what they deem a “failure” of corporate due diligence under Germany’s Supply Chain Act. 

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) and the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) said a lack of safety checks by Amazon, Ikea and Tom Tailor of their suppliers amounts to “a violation of corporate due diligence" under the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act.

It is the first complaint to be issued under the act, which came into effect in January and could see firms face fines of up to 2% of their global turnover if they fail to identify and prevent human rights and environmental impacts in their supply chains.

The complaint, which was made on the 10-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh which killed over 1,130 people, is based on research conducted in Bangladesh in March 2023 by the NGWF, which found “safety deficiencies” including a lack of inspections in factories used by the firms, and labour rights violations such as a lack of freedom of association.

NGWF president and co-founder Amirul Haque Amin said: "Ten years after Rana Plaza, there are still factories in Bangladesh producing clothes for international corporations like Amazon, Ikea or Tom Tailor, where there are hardly any safety checks. We can no longer accept this.”

The groups criticised the firms for not signing the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which they said could provide “effective mechanism for improving workplace safety”.

ECCHR lawyer and legal director Miriam Saage-Maaß said: "We are convinced that the failure to sign is a violation of corporate due diligence.

"It is now up to the competent German authority, the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control, to consider the complaint. We very much hope that the authority will ensure that German companies' business practices will not contribute to deadly disasters like Rana Plaza in the future.”

FEMNET chair of the board Gisela Burckhardt added: "Now is the time to use the German law to finally oblige such companies that do not want to voluntarily take responsibility for the people in their supply chains to do so”.

Ikea said it was unable to comment as it has not received any information from the German authorities. Amazon and Tom Tailor have been approached for comment. 

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