Five years on, the Baldia factory victims still look for justice

Karachi, September 09, 2017 (PPI-OT):Five years on, the deadly Baldia factory case is still lingering and the problems of survivors and victims families are multiplying with each passing day. Neither the government nor the employers seem to listen what has been said since the incident: ‘please save others from the meeting the same fate.’

Two-hundred-and-sixty workers were killed and several others were wounded when a fire broke out at Ali Enterprises garments factory in Baldia Town in the west of Karachi on September 11, 2012. Addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club, the Ali Enterprises Factory Fire Affectees Association which is the sole representatives of the victims have decried once again an overall social and political apathy on the factory fire case.

Saeeda Khatoon, vice-chairperson AEFFAA, said that victims and their families still look for justice but sadly no one seems to be listening to their concerns. She added that despite witnessing the deadliest incident due to the lack of safety, the authorities did not bring any reform. “People are still being killed in it.”

“The lives of workers are still at stake today at their workplaces. Labour laws and safety are nearly zero at almost all the places,” she commented, while at the same appreciating that September 11 should be observed as health and safety day but with practical work.

Compensation issue

Last year, the International Labour Organization had announced that an agreement was reached among German company KiK, which procured most products from the ill-fated factory, and Industrial and Clean Clothes Campaign over compensation to the victims. KiK paid USD5.15 million to be distributed among the victims.

The ILO, however, later suggested that the money should be given in monthly instalments rather than in lump sum. The proposed instalment is around Rs2,800 (USD 27) which is unacceptable to the victims and their families. Khatoon urged the ILO to review its decision and address the concerns raised by AEFFAA. She said that the amount is supposed to be distributed by Sindh Employees Social Security Institution which is famous for being run by a corrupt lobby.

Reminding former PM Nawaz and Malik Riaz their promises

The AEFFAA leader urged the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and real estate tycoon Malik Riaz to fulfill the promises they made to the victims and, meanwhile, asked the Sindh government to fulfill its too. Nawaz had promised to pay Rs300,000 in financial aid to the victims but this never happened. On the other hand, Riaz paid some people only. The provincial government had pledged to provide victims a plot and a job, this also never materialized.

The AEFF unanimously agreed on the points that the Baldia factory fire victims should be given their due compensation all at once rather than in instalments, in case it doesn’t happen this way, they will move to the court. They also demanded the government to decide the Baldia factory fire case pending with an anti-terrorism court at the earliest and not to politicize the issue for its own interests.

They urged the authorities to pay the victims the gratuity funds their loved ones died in the fire were eligible to get as per the law. They said that the promises made to them should be fulfilled. They demanded the prime minister Nawaz Sharif and a real estate tycoon Malik Riaz fulfill their promises of paying financial aids to the victims and advised them to not make such claims again with anyone if they were not sticking to it.

While demanding that occupational health and safety laws should be implemented at all workplaces, they asked the government to set up a workers training centre in the memory of the Baldia factory fire victims. Others who spoke at the event include NTUF president Rafiq Baloch, deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor, AEFFA general secretary Abdul Aziz and Home Based Women Workers Federation general secretary Zehra Khan.

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


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