KARACHI - On the occasion of fourth anniversary of Baldia factory blaze, the victims’ families and labor rights organisations have welcomed the decision from Geneva, Switzerland to compensate those affected by the fire.

The National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), The Ali Enterprises Fire Affectees Association (AEFAA) and others called the agreement in which German cloth discounter KiK submitted to pay the compensation to the victims’ families as historic.

According to it, KiK will pay USD5.15 million in compensation to the families of those perished in the fire overnight. This has been done with the help of international actors’ involvement in the negotiation process.

The NTUF and AEFAA express thanks to International Labor Organization, IndustriALL Global Union, Clean Clothes Campaign as well as German government and others for their contribution in the process. With this decision, a long standing demand of laborers is going to be fulfilled.

This was announced during an event, organized by NTUF and AEFAA, to mark the fourth anniversary of the inferno outside the same ill-fated factory on Sunday. A large number of victims’ families, industrial and home-based workers and others took part in the event to pay homage to their lost comrades. At the start of the event, one-minute silence was observed in remembrance of the fallen. Young poet Comrade Mushtaq Ali Shan recited couplets written for the deceased workers while Comrade Muhammad Ali sung a song for them.

The speakers at the event said that the Ali Enterprises fire incident was one of the worst industrial disasters in which 260 people lost their lives. Four years on, the victims’ families are still awaiting the justice, they said. Mentioning the recently filed charge sheet of the case, they expressed apprehensions about its contents and about exonerating the factory owners from it.

The charge sheet and the police decision to relive the factory owners off the charges will be challenged in the higher court, the speakers asserted, saying that whatsoever were the causes of the fire, most of the deaths occurred because the victims could not find a way to escape it. The factory itself and its working conditions were in violation of the labor laws in place, they said. Excluding owners and others from the case despite having evidences on record against them is incomprehensible, they added.

Describing the condition of the heirs of the victims, the speakers said that during these four years many of them died after suffering excessive mental stress and other problems. They said that the government apathy towards the case could be ascertained with the fact that 17 dead bodies which were charred beyond recognition in the incident were still unidentified. The DNA report has not arrived, they said.

Mentioning the pledges of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when he was not country’s premier to provide Rs300,000 and of former Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah to provide a plot and a job to each of the victims’ families, speakers said that they never materialized. Similarly, the promise of Bahria Town developer Malik Riaz has not yet fulfilled completely, they added.