In September 2012, over 250 workers were killed and 50 more suffered serious injuries in a fire at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan. Now, after almost six years, victims have started receiving compensation payments based on an agreement reached between German brand KiK and IndustriALL Global Union and Clean Clothes Campaign, mediated by the ILO.
After four years of intense campaigning to secure proper compensation from German retailer KiK, Ali Enterprises’ only known buyer, an agreement was reached in September 2016. According to the agreement KiK paid US$5.2 million as compensation to the victims of the fire.
The joint campaign was spearheaded by the victims, represented by IndustriALL affiliate National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research (PILER), IndustriALL, Clean Clothes Campaign, and other allies including UNI Global Union.
The compensation payments have now started and will be paid to the victims by monthly installments through Sindh Employees Social Security Institution. As a redress to the delay in payments, the victims will initially be paid the dues of previous 20 months in a lump sum, while monthly payments will start in August this year.
A committee to monitor the payment process has been formed. The Sindh labour secretary heads the committee with members including victims’ representatives, NTUF, PILER, Sindh Employees Social Security Institution, the employers’ federation and government representatives.
At an event to mark the distribution of the cheques to the victims’ families on 19 May, Saeeda Khatoon, of Ali Enterprise Factory Fire Affectees Association and Nasir Mansoor of the NTUF said:
This is a historic moment for the workers’ movement in Pakistan. International support from the ILO, IndustriALL and Clean Clothes Campaign played a crucial role in winning lifelong compensation to the victims.
They also noted that, Pakistan needs a similar provision like the Bangladesh Accord, a legally binding agreement between unions and global brands to ensure workplace safety in all garment factories.
Jenny Holdcroft, IndustriALL assistant general secretary said:
We appreciate everyone involved in this collective struggle. The long-term compensation will provide some justice and relief to the families of victims and survivors. We acknowledge KiK for taking responsibility and paying the compensation according to the international standards.
Now we need to strengthen our efforts towards a safer garment industry in Pakistan, as we are doing through the Accord in Bangladesh.
According to the agreement life long monthly payment of the compensation would be:
- Parents of each victim and a widow or widower having no child would receive Rs 7, 545 (US$65)
- Widows or Widower who have one child would receive Rs 10,060 (US$87) while those who have more that two or more children would receive Rs 13, 138 (US$113)
- Children of those who had remarried would receive Rs 3,500 (US$30) a month