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3 Jun 2021

Clean Clothes Campaign's open letter to RINA, alleging co. non-response to their requests for an update on Italian NCP recommendations

[English translation by Campagna Abiti Puliti of “Lettera aperta a RINA”, 3 June 2021 at https://www.abitipuliti.org/azioni-urgenti/ali-enteprises-pakistan/lettera-aperta-a-rina/]

Genoa, June 3rd 2021

We are publishing this open letter to RINA SPA after having tried in vain to establish a fruitful contact with the company at the end of the negotiated mediation procedure before the OSCE National Contact Point, which ended without reaching an agreement.

The Clean Clothes Campaign with Italian association Movimento Consumatori, along with the International Office of the Clean Clothes Campaign, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, the Ali Enterprises Factory Fire Affectees Association, the Pakistan National Trade Union Federation and the Pakistan Institute for Labour Education and Research, had filed a complaint before the OECD National Contact Point on 11 September 2018 aimed at affirming RINA's responsibility in the matter of the fire that broke out at the Ali Enterprise factory in Pakistan in 2012 in which 250 people lost their lives. RINA, by issuing the SA8000 certificate three weeks before the fire, had guaranteed that the factory was safe. The German brand Kik was forced to pay compensation to the victims after an intense international lobbying campaign, but in our opinion the auditor RINA also had a clear responsibility, because it should have detected and used the audit process to have the serious safety violations in the building repaired (from the accumulation of flammable materials, to the unpermitted and unlawful wooden mezzanine floor clearly visible at the entrance to Block 1, to the inadequate and inoperative sprinkler system, to the lack of adequate emergency exits and stairs, to name but a few). An excellent reconstruction of the facts has been produced through a digital simulation by Forensic Architecture, an independent research agency based at Goldsmiths University in London and is available here

We have asked RINA to show us the audit reports which certified the Ali Enterprise factory as safe, but RINA refused .

We have asked RINA to take responsibility for admitting its mistake in granting SA8000 certification to Ali Enterprise, a mistake which proved fatal to 250 people, but RINA refused.

We have demanded that RINA contributed to financial compensation for the families of the fire victims, as its client Kik did, but RINA refused.

RINA refused to comply not only with our requests but also with the solutions the mediator had proposed to reach an effective agreement. The mediation procedure therefore ended in a deadlock (we were left with nothing but with an unsettling disappointment and amazement), and although no agreement was reached, the OECD National Contact Point issued a number of Recommendations together with the final statement closing the procedure. In particular, it recommended that RINA should:

(i) make a concrete humanitarian gesture and take action to show its sympathy for the tragic event;

(ii) when operating in countries and sectors at risk, such as in the case of the textile sector in Pakistan, carry out a risk-based due diligence effective and adequate to the risks registered, as recommended by the OECD Guidelines;

(iii)  take proactive initiatives within SAI and SAAS, with the aim of improving the certification mechanism with particular attention to the criticalities of the textile sector and of high-risk countries.

The NCP also recommended the Parties to send an update on the activities carried out since these Recommendations in December 2021. On 3 March 2021 we wrote to RINA to ask if and how it had undertaken to follow up on the NCP Recommendations. We also did so in accordance with the Recommendations themselves, which contained an invitation to cooperate with RINA on their implementation and to keep each other updated.

However, we have received no reply. We are therefore obliged to make this situation known by publishing this appeal, which we hope will help us to obtain a reply from RINA SPA, also in the light of the next appointment with the NCP in December 2021, to which, moreover, considering the time and attention that the NCP itself has dedicated to our procedure, we do not intend to arrive unprepared or empty-handed. 

With this open letter we therefore ask RINA to reply, informing us in a transparent and responsible manner whether it intends to follow up the NCP's recommendations, and if so, how. We think that, after all these years of work but above all of using public resources in the procedure with the OECD NCP, a reply is due.

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