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Pakistan – little change five years after deadly fire

12 September, 2017On the fifth anniversary of the Ali Enterprises factory fire in Baldia, Pakistan, survivors, victim’s families and others paid tribute to the 257 workers killed on 11 September 2012.

The Ali Enterprises Factory Fire Affectees Association (AEFFAA) and National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) held a gathering on 11 September outside the factory where the fire took place.

Speakers at the event said that justice has not been delivered to the victims, as the factory owners have been relieved of all charges. At the time of the accident there was no emergency exit at the factory and the only gate used was locked after the fire started. The absence of fire alarms contributed to large number of deaths.

While international and local brands and the employer are directly responsible for the accidents in factories, negligence of the government authorities helped them to get away.

AEFFAA representatives said that although German company KiK, who sourced most of the products made at Ali Enterprises, paid US$5.15 million to the International Labor Organization after reaching an agreement with IndustriALL Global Union and Clean Clothes Campaign in 2016, there are issues concerning the compensation payments.

Nasir Mansoor, president of IndustriALL affiliate NTUF said:

“The government has not learnt its lesson from the fire. Precarious work and dangerous working conditions are still the norms. A majority of the factories do not allow workers to form unions, who can contribute to improve workplace safety. Employers force workers to work beyond eight hours shift, do not provide written contracts, nor register them with the social security and pension institutions. This has to change.”

Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL textile and garment director said: “Pakistan’s government should take immediate steps to improve safety in garment factories. Workers’ right to form unions must be respected and will help to resolve number of issues faced by workers.”