KARACHI    -  Baldia Factory incident witnessed the worst industrial mishap of our history claiming lives of 260 laborers and still awaits justice as the perpetrators are still scot-free.

To avert the dreaded industrial mishaps strict health and safety measures at workplaces should be ensured, said the speakers  of a rally organised jointly by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Association of the Affectees of Baldia Factory Fire here on Wednesday in front of affected factory.

The event was presided over by the chairperson of the Association Saeeda Khatoon, while survivors of the incident and relatives and families of the victims also attended it, besides a large number of workers and social and political activists. Sindh Minister for Information Saeed Ghani also attended the event.

The speakers regretted that even after passage of seven years the real culprits of the incident are away from the long arm of law. They said industrial incidents are routine due to poor health and safety measures in industries, factories and workplaces. The Sindh government in 2017 has approved an Occupational Health and Safety Law, but its practical implementation is still a big question mark.

The speaker said the government, and owners of factories instead of learning a lesson from Baldia fire factory incident and securing lives of workers have created atmosphere of fear in industrial entities.

Today less than 1 percent of 68 million labour force is organised in trade unions in Pakistan. More than 95 percent factories are not registered. Only 5 percent labours have appointment letters, while other factories are run on contract labour system. Less than 5 percent of workers are registered in EOBI and social security.

The speakers presented their demands including introduction of labour inspection on basis of tripartite principle to ensure health and safety in factories and workplaces, appointment letters to workers and salaries paid through banks, implementation of eight-hour workday and action be taken against employers paying less than government-approved minimum wages, registration of workers with social security and EOBI, affected factory’s building be razed and a labor training institutes should be built there, labor standards be implemented in factories, especially textile, garments and mining sector, perpetrators of Baldia Factory fire should be punished, all factories should be registered under the Factories Act and the law of OSH should be implemented, the EOBI pension to the old parents of the martyrs of Baldia factory fire should be made for lifetime, the cases of gratuity and groups insurance of the relatives of martyrs pending for last 7 years in the office of Commissioner of Compensation be decided at the earliest.

Those spoke on the occasion included National Trade Union Federation leader Nasir Mansoor, Ali Enterprises Factory Fire Affecttees Association (AEFFAA) Saeeda Khatoon,  Peoples Labour Bureau  leader Habibuddin Junaidi, Zehra Khan  from Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) and others.