Ensure health and safety measures at workplace and register all citizens under Universal Social Security

Karachi, September 11, 2020 (PPI-OT):Eight years after Baldia town factory fire tragedy, the government had criminally failed to protect the lives of workers in the workplaces. The victims of the tragedy were still crying for justice.

These views were expressed by the labor leaders at a gathering held in memory of 260 workers who were martyred in the factory fire tragedy on 11 September2012, which was chaired by Ms. Saeedah Khatoon. The commemorative gathering was jointly organized by National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan (NTUF), Ali Enterprise Factory Fire Effects Association (AEFFAA) and Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF).

Addressing the gathering, Nasir Mansoor, General Secretary, National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan (NTUF), said nothing was learnt from the tragic incident of September 11, as a result, workplace accidents had been on the rise. The incidents at marble mines in Mahnumed and the fire at the Shell terminal in Karachi were clear evidence that the lives of workers in the workplace were not safe.

He further said that the real causes of the Baldia tragedy had been completely ignored, political interests had become first priority and facts were sacrificed. The idea that the factory owner was innocent and oppressed was drawing very dangerous consequences. All those responsible for the tragedy, including the factory owner, the German brand and the Italian social auditing company will not be brought to justice, there was no prospect of improvement in Industrial peace and progress.

Saeedah Khatun, Chairperson, Ali Enterprise Factory Fire Effects Association, said, “Our grief is not only that our loved ones were burnt in front of our eyes. Our sadness is that even after eight years, we have not received justice”.

She added promises made to us had been forgotten. The children, parents, widows of the martyred workers had been living a life of helplessness and helplessness. Elderly parents had been deprived of their pensions which they were receiving on the orders of the High Court, many had departed in the same grief. She also said that she and her association, along with other labor organizations, would continue to fight for justice and rights for the victims.

Zahra Khan, General Secretary, Home Based Women Workers Federation, said that the declaration of labor laws in industrial enterprises was being violated and the concerned institutions remained a symbol of indifference. Rights such as written appointment contracts, union formation, minimum wage, eight-hour work, weekly leave, bonuses and safety measures during work had been completely stripped away. Industrial zones had become a symbol of modern slavery. The only way out of that situation was through consistent organize people’s resistance.

Karamat Ali, Convener National Labor Council, said that Health and Safety Act had been passed in Sindh but it was not being implemented even after three years. In the current situation, it had become necessary to implement labor laws in the true sense of the word. If that was not done, our products will face difficulties in the international markets.

Comrade Khaliq Zadran, leader of Shahri Awami Mahaz, said that improving the lives of workers and ensuring their rights under the law was not one of the priorities of the ruling elite. Therefore, we witnessed that the package announced for the development of Karachi did not allocate any money for improving the working conditions and working conditions of the workers and for the safety arrangements in the industrial establishments.

Habibuddin Junaidi, president of the People’s Labor Bureau, said the Baldia tragedy was a “wake-up call” for society as a whole, but unfortunately no one paid attention. At a time when the laws were not being enforced and the concerned departments were neglecting to address the grievances, then the working class should put aside all differences and declare a joint struggle to curb the growing lawlessness.

The gathering demanded that Ensure health and safety arrangements in factories and workplaces. Pension of parents of martyrs’ workers should be restored. Compensation should be paid to the workers who became disabled in the tragedy. The Bangladesh Accord like accord should be negotiated dor Pakistan as to make international brands and their local suppliers accountable in respect of implementation of labour and safety standards. Ensure payment of gratuity and group insurance to the families of martyrs. Private social auditing should be abolished immediately. Labor inspection should be restored in true word based on modern principles. Workers should be given the right to form unions. The illegal contracting system should be abolished. All citizens should be registered under Universal Social Security.

Other speakers included Rafiq Baloch, President, President National Trade Union Federation Comrade Gul Rehman, Workers Rights Movement, Zubair Rehman, Progressive Intellectual, Saira Bano, General Secretary, United Home Based Women Workers Garment Workers Union, Rehman Baloch, Shah Mir. Welfare Trust, Aqib Hussain, President Youth Committee and Khidr Qazi, human rights activist.

For more information, contact:
Deputy General Secretary,
National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF)
Office No. 726, Mashriq Centre, Gulshan-e-Iqbal,
Block No. 14, National Stadium Road, Karachi, Pakistan
Tel: +92-21-7075324
Fax: +92-21-34853685
Cell: +92-300-3587211