KARACHI - The labour organizations and families of the victims on Sunday took out a rally demanding from the international brand and social audit company to pay full financial compensation to the heirs of Karachi’s Baldia factory fire victims.
They also demanded that Employees Oldage Benefit Institute (EOBI) should issue pension cards for life time to the legal heirs of the victims.
The rally was staged jointly by National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF) and Association of the Affectees of Balida Fire Tragedy, which marched from the Arts Council of Pakistan to Karachi Press Club (KPC). A large number of the heirs of factory fire victims, labors, students, women and civil society members attended the rally to express solidarity with the bereaved families of martyred workers.
Addressing the rally, central deputy general secretary of NTUF Nasir Mansoor said despite the sad incident of Ali Enterprises the government and the related departments had yet to take steps to safeguard the lives of workers. He said though 259 workers were burnt alive but no precautionary measures were taken after this grave tragedy and such incidents were still happening in mills and factories which show that the rulers were least concerned about the lives of workers. He said the apathy of the rulers could be gauged from the fact that the aid as announced by Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was yet to be given to the affectees.
He said the assistance announced by Malik Riaz, the owner of Bahria Town, was also not received by all the affectees. He said the EOBI was also tormenting the heirs of the victims on different pretexts and pension cards were not yet issued to many heirs of the victims. Mansoor said the pension cards issued were also for just five years and not for the life time, which had perplexed the heirs. Nasir Mansoor said the government was continuously ignoring the problems of labourers. He said despite getting special incentives under GSP+, no steps were being taken to improve working hours, health and safety issues of workers, which was violation of international laws. He said the international brands and social audit companies were fully involved in this process and they were continuously violating the labour laws in connivance with the factory owners.
Workers Rights Movement leader Comrade Gul Rehman said the German company KIK ,getting merchandises from the factory and RINA, the organization of Italy that issued the social audit certificate were equally responsible for the Ali Enterprises tragedy, but they were reluctant to accept the responsibility and give compensation to the affectees as per international laws. He announced that on the second anniversary of the Ali Enterprises tragedy the NTUF and Association of the Affectees of Balida Fire Tragedy would start a protest campaign against them, for which contacts had already been made with labour organizations of whole world. He said the KIK and RINA would be sued in local and international courts with the help of local and international organizations.
Muhammad Jabbir, the organizer of Association of the Affectees of Baldia Fire Tragedy said they had lost our near and dear ones in the Baldia factory fire incidents and they did not want the sad incident should be repeated. He said for this it was necessary that the government and the factory owners would ensure strict implementation of international standard of health and safety and give these basic rights to millions of workers.
The rally demanded that the government should take health and safety measures at workplaces on priority basis. The aid as announced by Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif should be given to the heirs of the factory fire victims. The assistance announced by Malik Riaz was not paid to all the affectees and this assistance should be given to the remaining affectees. The EOBI should issue life time pension cards to all heirs of the victims. The government of Pakistan should ensure implementation of the safety, health, labor laws and other conventions under the GSP+. KIK accepting its responsibility should start formal dialogue with the heirs and real representatives of workers for immediate payment of the compensation as per international standards. The social audit company, RINA that had issued audit certificate to the Ali Enterprises was directly responsible for the tragedy and it should initiate talks with the heirs and representatives of workers’ organizations for the payment of compensation. The government should ensure proper labour inspection and recognize the international conventions of health and safety.