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Ali Enterprises anniversary underlines dire need for safe workplaces

11 September, 2023Today’s 11th anniversary of the fire at Ali Enterprises, a readymade garment factory in Pakistan, that killed more than 250 workers, is a stark reminder that safe factories still need to be fought for. The extension of the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry to Pakistan at the end of 2022 is the starting point for countering the tragic legacy.

On 11 September 2012, more than 250 workers were killed and over 50 were injured in one of the world’s worst industrial fires at Ali Enterprises in Karachi, Pakistan.

It took years of intense campaigning 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 to secure proper compensation from German retailer KiK, Ali Enterprises’ only known buyer. An agreement was reached in September 2016, where KiK paid US$5.2 million as compensation to the victims of the fire.

And expanding the International Accord, that over the past ten years made jobs safer for millions of garment workers in Bangladesh, to Pakistan means that garment workers in the country will face a safer future in their workplaces.

With 72 signatories to date, the International Accord is establishing a comprehensive workplace health and safety program in Pakistan covering signatories' garment and textile suppliers. It is a legally binding agreement between global unions, IndustriALL and UNI Global Union, and garment brands and retailers for an interim term of three years starting in 2023.

Says IndustriALL global union general secretary Atle Høie:

“We join our affiliates in Pakistan in commemorating the victims of the tragic fire, and we reiterate our strong commitment to ensure safe workplaces for garment workers. With the Accord implementation in Pakistan, preventable deaths and accidents will rapidly decrease, workers will receive training on occupational health and safety, which will empower them and hopefully they will see the benefit of joining a trade union to fight collectively for their rights.”