The BALDIA (& Lahore) Fire September 2012 –PART 2 20120922-20121120

14:33:51 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

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* Fire put out at another factory:

The firemen have fought down a fire at another garments factory in Karachi after a struggle of seven hours, Geo News reported.

Reportedly, no one was hurt as the employees escaped in time.
It is suspected that combustible material caught fire at the first floor, which houses the cutting department of the apparel-making unit located in Rashidabad near SITE area, an industrial cluster.

Initially a couple of fire tenders arrived to douse the fire but the blaze soon grew out of their control and the backup was sent for.
The fire department finally subdued with the stubborn blaze with the help of five tenders abetted by a water bowser. read more.

* Fire breaks out in garment factory:

A major fire broke out in a local garment factory in the SITE police limits on Sunday causing loss of millions of rupees.

According to the Central Fire Station, the fire broke out at about 11:15pm and had spread to other parts of the factory within minutes, reducing goods worth millions of rupees to ashes.
At least seven fire engines of the KMC reached the spot later on. Leaping flames and thick black smoke could be seen from far-flung areas of the city. The cause of the fire was short circuit.

KESC authorities rushed to the scene and disconnected power, while Sui gas officials were also present to disconnect the gas connection.
Police and law-enforcement agencies cordoned off the area and the Edhi ambulances were also present at the site.

PPI adds: Meanwhile, after a 13 hour long operation, the Fire Brigade of KMC finally controlled the fire erupted at the oil mills in SITE Limited on Saturday. Fire tenders and staff from KPT, PAF, CAA, Clifton Cantonment Board, Municipal Services, Machinery Pool and Rescue Department also took part in this fire fighting operation.
read more.

* Workers’ death in Karachi and Lahore: Condolence references and protest rallies by PTUDC:

Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign is organizing condolence references and  protests in various cities of Pakistan to condemn this barbarity which happened due to decaying capitalist system in Pakistan.

Lahore
In Lahore a condolence reference was organized for more than 300 workers who lost their lives in factory fires in Karachi and Lahore. The meeting was held in Lahore Press Club. The reference was attended by the International Secretary PTUDC Dr. Lal Khan, Central General Secretary Railways Labour
(….)

Dr. Tahir Shabbir recited a revolutionary poem at the start of program. After that one minute silence was observed for the victims of this tragedy.

The speakers said that there are no laws in Pakistan for the protection of workers and the workers in the factories are brutally oppressed and their lives are worse than that of animals.
The factory owners openly violate  the few regulations that exist on papers.
The minimum wage set by the government is already very low but factory owner pay much less than even that paltry amount.
Official minimum wage of eight thousand rupees is paid nowhere and in most factories the workers are forced to work for wages less than three to four thousands rupees a month.
If there are two hundred registered workers in a factory then in reality there are two thousand people working there and thanks to the system of contract labour, no record is kept about the workers. 99% workers don’t have any kind of social security and old age benefit because the condition for it is to have a permanent job in factory and permanent jobs are very rare these days as most of the workers are hired on contracts or on daily wages which is covered by no law or regulation.

Unions don’t exist in most of the industrial sector which is encouraged by the rulers. There is no justice for the workers in labour courts.
The workers cannot afford to go to the labour courts and if they manage to do so the cases prolong for several years and usually the decisions are always in the favour of capitalists and factory owners. Life of the worker has been made hell by this system.
(….)

Karachi
A meeting was held on 14 September at SITE industrial area in Karachi in the aftermath of tragedy in which more than 300 workers died in factory fire. Meeting was chaired by president of SITE Labour Forum Khasta Rehman.
He is also president of labour union in Coca Cola Karachi.
He proposed the agenda to start struggle for the legal rights of workers killed in this tragedy. In this meeting a committee was formed which will take care of the legal proceedings of the case of killed workers. Bakht Zaman who work in a pharmaceutical firm was made in charge of this committee.

Unanimous decision was made to hoist banners in front of all factories in SITE industrial area in protest over these killings.
A leaflet will also be distributed to all workers. A committee was formed for this purpose.
A fund was formed immediately in which 10,000 rupees were collected at the spot. Comrade Janat Husain of PTUDC also addressed this meeting and said that workers will themselves have to fight for their rights.
He said that according to government sources there were 268 workers in this factory but at the time of incident it came to knowledge that 3000 people worked there.
He said that PTUDC will always fight for the workers cause and will take the message of this meeting to all the workers of Pakistan and other countries.
read all-more.

* Workers Rights Movement formed to help victims’ families:

The Workers Rights Movement (WRM) has been formed to struggle for implementation of labour laws, grant of compensation to families of victims and arrest of gutted Baldia Town factory’s owners as well as confiscation of their assets and bank accounts.

The movement was formed after a meeting of the representatives of more than 70 trade union federations and labour rights organisations at the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi, the other day.

The meeting was presided over by noted politician and labour rights activist, Yousuf Masti Khan. A number of representatives of plant-level unions, different industrial zones labour bodies, left wing parties, human rights organisations, youth, students, women and social workers were present at the meeting. read more.

* PM distributes cheques among factory fire victims’ heirs:

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah on Saturday distributed compensation cheques among the relatives of the deceased and the injured workers of Baldia Town factory fire incident.

The inferno killed over 250 factory workers and injured hundreds others. The prime minister distributed cheques worth Rs 400,000 each for the deceased and Rs 100,000 each for the injured of the fire incident.

While the chief minister gave cheques of Rs 300,000 million each for those who lost their lives and Rs 50,000 each for the injured. Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khosa, Federal Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Federal Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah and Federal Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Speaker Sindh Assembly Nisar Ahmed Khuhro and Deputy Speaker Syeda Shehla Raza, Sindh ministers, members of National Assembly and Sindh Assembly were also present at the ceremony.
read more.

* Owners of gutted factory show distrust in probe committees:

The owners of gutted Baldia garments factory have expressed their distrust in all investigation committees, including those of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Sindh Police, formed to investigate into the incident that resulted in around 289 deaths.

This was stated by Advocate Aamir Munsib Qureshi, counsel of the factory owners, before Judicial Commission (JC) constituted to probe factory fire incident here on Saturday. The JC formed to probe garment factory fire headed by Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi proceeded the hearings of the commission.
Factory owners counsel Aamir Munsib Qureshi appeared before the commission and stated that his client had no confidence in the investigation committees. The investigation committee from Sindh Police is headed by Senior Superintendent of Police, Farooq Awan, while that of the FIA by Amir Farooqi.
“The factory owners demand international investigators to probe the matter impartially and ascertain facts,” he said, adding that the owners were ready to pay all the expenses of the committee/commission. read more. & read more.
 

* When misery repeats itself, but not quite:

March 25, 1911:
As the closing hours of the day approached, a fire broke out at the Triangle Waist Factory in New York City that resulted in 146 people losing their lives in 18 minutes. The company was a typical textile manufacturing unit based in Manhattan, characterised by long working hours, low wages, and unhealthy, unhygienic working conditions.

The fire erupted on the eighth floor. As a standard company policy, managers had locked the doors to every possible exit – a practice to prevent excessive and unauthorised break from work. Workers who could not escape the building jumped from the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors to the streets below. Some got severely injured; the others were less fortunate and lost their lives.

(……)

September 11, 2012:
Over a decade later, as the closing hours of the day approached, a fire broke out at Ali Enterprises Factory in Karachi, killing almost 300 people. The company was a typical textile manufacturing unit characterised by long working hours, low wages, and unhygienic working conditions. Workers were unable to leave the office premises because the doors were locked – a practice to prevent them from leaving their shifts early.

The fumes became increasingly toxic in the presence of textile chemicals present in the factory. There was no emergency exit and the only way for the workers to escape was to smash iron bars on the windows to jump the four storey building. The company thrived on immigrant worker population, both from within and outside borders, willing to work in compromising conditions and low wages. read more.

* Social Accountability International: We are devastated by the Pakistan fire & determined to find answers:

All of us at Social Accountability International (SAI) and at Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS) are horrified by the fire at Ali Enterprises in Karachi, Pakistan, on Wednesday, September 12, in which nearly 300 workers died. We are determined to learn how and why it happened. The day following the fire SAAS was informed by RINA, a global certification body based in Genova, Italy, that RINA had issued an SA8000 certification to the Ali Enterprises factory in August 2012.  Once we learned this, SAI and SAAS began an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the certification, and released a public statement on September 16 based on verified information.  News reports have been full of discrepancies, from the number of workers at the factory, to the number of victims, to whether fire emergency doors failed to work – and we have to be careful about this speculation.  It is essential that we act, but only on factual information.

We have many questions, and others have raised questions as well.  To help eliminate some of the inevitable confusion in a matter like this, we have prepared a list of questions and answers to the extent we know them at this time.

1. What is the name of the audit company that issued the certificate?
2.  How could a certificate have been issued under the conditions widely reported in the media to have existed at the Ali Enterprises factory?
3. Doesn’t this failure demonstrate the inadequacy of the social auditing model?
4. What is being done to ensure adequate oversight over SAAS accredited audit firms?
5. What companies were sourcing apparel from the Ali Enterprises factory?

More questions And answers you can  find here.

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* Worker Rights Movement Formed, Launching Movement Against Factory Fire Culprits:

A representative meeting of more than 70 trade union federations, plant level unions, labour bodies from industrial zones, leftist parties, youth, students, women, social organizations, labor rights and human rights organizations, professional organizations, and individuals was held on Saturday, September 22, at Karachi Art Council to discuss the 9/11 factory fire tragedy in Karachi/Lahore and to develop joint action plans to demand justice from the culprits and for workers’ rights. Yousuf Masti Khan, of Workers Party Pakistan (WPP), presided over the meeting.

Nasir Mansoor, of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), coordinated the meeting and briefed the participants about the current situation and the various measures taken by different organizations including the case in the high court, collection of information about the deceased and injured workers, and proposed future actions to cope with the situation.

The representatives stated that the government has been trying to give safe cover-up to the factory owners and sweep the fire tragedy under the carpet through the formation of a partial commission, which lacks the trust of worker-representative bodies.
The fact that the government has yet to initiate any compensation process shows that it has no sympathy toward the deceased and injured workers and the plight of their families.
The government is failing to respect the law and punish the culprits responsible for the tragedy. Rather the government is dragging on the process in the hopes that the people will forget it.
That is why it allowed the main culprit to go escort-free and facilitated the obtaining of preemptive bail, first from Larkana Bench and than from Rawalpindi.
This shows the state apparatus’ attitude toward the 300 workers who were burned alive in the tragedy. read more.

* Action against owners, state functionaries demanded:

The Garments Hosiery Labour Association (GHLA) has demanded of the Sindh government to take legal action against the owners of Ali Enterprises as well as the Civil Defence, Fire Brigade and Labour Departments for showing criminal negligence in the Baldia factory inferno that claimed the lives of 298 workers.

The association has also demanded for providing jobs to the affected labourers who lost their jobs due to the incident and till then they should be given unemployment allowance.
Addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Thursday, General Secretary GHLA Nawab Ali and other office bearers including Sohail Raza said that only a few hosiery garment factories that have been registered with the International Standard Organization (ISO) use to honour the code of conduct while most of the factories had been obtaining ISO certificate through foul means.
(…)
According to Nawab Ali, there are hundreds of hosiery garment factories in Karachi where around 800,000 labourers work, of whom 40 per cent are female. read more.

* Baldia factory blaze survivor speaks of a forenoon fire:

A survivor of the Baldia garment factory blaze told an inquiry tribunal on Monday that earlier in the day on Sept 11 a fire had broken out and been extinguished within 10 minutes.

Sharif, a young labourer, was testifying before the tribunal investigating the inferno that killed more than 250 people and wrecked the industrial unit.
Retired Justice Zahid Qurban Alvi, who is heading the probe body set up by the Sindh government, said he was surprised by the disclosure and called more witnesses to corroborate the statement.

The Ali Enterprises employee said that he, his father and three women coworkers escaped the flames though a second floor window of the building.
“Earlier in the day while we were busy working at 11am we heard that a fire had broken out on the ground floor of the factory that was put out in 10 minutes,” said Sharif insisting that the blaze that engulfed the industrial unit in the evening was not the first fire incident that fateful day.

“Did you see the 11am fire?” asked the tribunal and Sharif said he only heard about that. However, he said the talk about the forenoon fire was so common among his colleagues well before the evening fire that he was convinced that it did occur.
read more.

* Lazy fire brigade to blame for tragedy, say owners:

The owners of Ali Enterprises, the ill-fated garment factory where 258 people died in a fire, have refuted all claims of negligence on their part and blamed the late arrival of fire tenders for the tragedy.

Shahid Bhaila and his brother Arshad Bhaila appeared before the two-member commission on Monday for the first time since the hearing began on September 17. The third owner, their father Abdul Aziz Bhaila, could not turn up because of health problems.
“Had the fire brigade arrived sooner, the loss could have been contained,” said Shahid Bhaila while testifying before the tribunal constituted by the Sindh government to determine the cause of fire.

Allegations of closed doors, an unregistered factory or no fire safety measures inside the building were all rejected by the owners.

Earlier, the chief fire officer, Ehtisham Saleem, informed the tribunal that fire tenders had reached the spot within 15 minutes and continued the operation till the fire was extinguished. But Shahid Bhaila disagreed, saying: “We rang up the fire emergency number many times, but did not get a response. I had to send my manager personally to the SITE fire station. Despite our hectic efforts, the first fire tender arrived after one hour.” read more.

* Our employees being harassed: Baldia Town factory owners:

Owners of the ill-fated factory in Baldia Town claimed on Monday that their employees were being harassed and added that they wanted to resolve the case immediately but were not being allowed to visit the factory, Express News reported.

Appearing in front of a judicial tribunal at the Sindh Secretariat, owners Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila said that the factory as well as its records are in the custody of investigative agencies.
The owners were recording their statements in front of the tribunal headed by Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Alavi.
The owners said that they had no information about any chemical which allegedly caused the fire and added that eight of the factory workers are in police custody.
read more.

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* Owners told to file assets list in court:

The Sindh High Court on Tuesday directed the owners of the gutted garment factory in Baldia Town to file a complete list of their respective properties and assets in court within 10 days.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam was seized with as many as five identical petitions seeking a judicial inquiry into the fire incident that claimed lives of over 250 workers on Sept 11.

The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Rana Faizul Hasan, a civil right campaigner and others filed the petitions for institution of a judicial commission who may fix the responsibility on persons responsible for such an incident and suggest monetary compensation to the legal heirs of the inferno victims.

The petitioners also prayed to the court to restrain the inquiry commission constituted by the provincial government from functioning. read more. & read more.
 

* Lazy fire brigade to blame for tragedy, say owners:

 The owners of Ali Enterprises, the ill-fated garment factory where 258 people died in a fire, have refuted all claims of negligence on their part and blamed the late arrival of fire tenders for the tragedy.

Shahid Bhaila and his brother Arshad Bhaila appeared before the two-member commission on Monday for the first time since the hearing began on September 17. The third owner, their father Abdul Aziz Bhaila, could not turn up because of health problems.

“Had the fire brigade arrived sooner, the loss could have been contained,” said Shahid Bhaila while testifying before the tribunal constituted by the Sindh government to determine the cause of fire.

Allegations of closed doors, an unregistered factory or no fire safety measures inside the building were all rejected by the owners.

Earlier, the chief fire officer, Ehtisham Saleem, informed the tribunal that fire tenders had reached the spot within 15 minutes and continued the operation till the fire was extinguished. But Shahid Bhaila disagreed, saying: “We rang up the fire emergency number many times, but did not get a response. I had to send my manager personally to the SITE fire station. Despite our hectic efforts, the first fire tender arrived after one hour.” read more.

* Fire officer records his statement to the tribunal:

The tribunal, formed to investigate the cause of fire which erupted in one of Karachi’s factory killing at least 258 people on Sept 11, summoned some of the surviving workers on Wednesday to record their testimonies, DawnNews reported.

Chief Fire Officer Ehtesham uddin appeared before the tribunal, headed by Justice (retd) Qurban Alvi, to present his testimony.

The chief fire officer presented the call records of the day of the incident and daily journal of the fire department to the tribunal.

Answering a question, the chief officer said that it was necessary to examine the map of the factory so that it can be ascertained that how many emergency exits were initially planned. read more.

* Fire dept fails to find cause of Baldia factory inferno:

The fire department submitted on Tuesday its final report to an inquiry tribunal investigating the Baldia Town garment factory inferno, which killed more than 250 workers on Sept 11, and admitted that it did not have the means to determine the cause of a fire.

The report submitted by chief fire officer Ehtashamuddin to the Sindh government-established tribunal headed by retired Justice Zahid Qurban Alvi, however, ‘assessed’ the cause to be a short circuit.

In the final report the department gave details of its operation. It said the provincial institutions, including the Sindh Industrial and Trading Estate Limited and Civil Defence, failed to keep checks on the ‘serious violations’ of the building and safety rules by Ali Enterprises.

“Would it be right to say that a short circuit could be the cause of the fire, but you don’t have the expertise to declare it so?” asked Justice Alvi and the chief fire officer replied in the affirmative.

“Neither do we have the expertise nor do laboratories carry out a forensic examination of the affected place. The cause of the fire we have mentioned in the report is based on our assessment and experience, but not as a result of a technical analysis,” he said, adding that other causes of the fire could not be ruled out.
read more.  & read more. & read more.
   

* Short circuit may have caused the fire, says fire brigade:

In their initial report, fire brigade officials have conjectured that a short circuit might have caused the inferno which ravaged Ali Enterprises’ garment factory in Baldia.

“This is not the final report,” said the chief fire officer, Ehtisham Saleem. “We do not have a forensic expert to ascertain the fire’s cause and using our vast experience, we have merely surmised that a short circuit led to the inferno.”

This is the second time that fire department officials appeared before the judicial committee, which was formed by the Sindh government on September 12 to ascertain the cause behind the fire. A day earlier, the factory’s owners, Shahid Bhaila and his brother Arshad Bhaila, had appeared before the committee and castigated the fire department’s inefficiency in dealing with the incident.

During the proceeding, Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Ali, who is heading the committee, asked the fire brigade how they deduced that a short circuit had caused the inferno. “Frequent power fluctuations can cause a short circuit. I think this was also the case with the Baldia factory fire,” said Saleem. read more.

* Baldia factory fire: Who is architect Qamar Uddin? :

Two weeks after a fire gutted Ali Enterprise factory, killing 258 people trapped inside, the authorities have still not found its architect and industry officials now doubt he even exists, highlighting the shady way in which many building designs are approved in Karachi.  

Inquires made by The Express Tribune to track him down have led to dead ends with both professional bodies – the Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners and the Institute of Architects Pakistan (IAP) – equally clueless.
The 6×4 feet blueprint of the factory says that Muhammad Qamar Uddin, with an architect’s licence number of A1-01-67, designed the building. His address is stated to be R-631, Sector 9, North Karachi.
PTCL record shows that a phone connection has been registered under the name of Qamar Uddin at the same home address. The number, however, is dead. read more.

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* Report on factory fire to be submitted tomorrow:

The tribunal formed to investigate the cause of fire which erupted in one of Karachi’s factory killing at least 258 people on Sept 11 would present its report to the Sindh government tomorrow.

Two Medico-Legal Officers (MLO) on Wednesday recorded their statements to the tribunal which was headed by Justice (Retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi.

The MLO of Jinnah hospital Dr Jagdeesh Kumar presented post-mortem reports of nine of the victims of the factory fire. He said that these people died because of intensity of the fire and excess inhaling of carbon-monoxide. Some people died because of fear, shock and ingestion of poisonous gases in stomach and brain, he added.

The MLO of the Civil Hospital Dr Abdul Haq presented post-mortem reports of the 15 people deceased in the incident.

He said that a certain type of chemical test of the dead bodies could have ascertained the cause of the fire but there was no facility in the country to conduct those tests. read more.

* Tribunal probing Karachi factory fire will submit report by Sept 28:

Residents look on during the rescue operation after a deadly fire at a garment factory in Karachi, Sept 12, 2012. — File Photo by AFP

The tribunal formed to investigate the cause of fire which erupted in one of Karachi’s factory killing at least 258 people on Sept 11 would present its report to the Sindh government on Sept 28, DawnNews reported.

Two Medico-Legal Officers (MLO)  on Wednesday recorded their statements to the tribunal which was headed by Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi .
The MLO of Jinnah hospital Dr Jagdeesh Kumar presented post-mortem reports of nine of the victims of the factory fire. He said that these people died because of intensity of the fire and excess inhaling of carbon-monoxide.

Some people died because of fear, shock and ingestion of poisonous gases in stomach and brain, he added.
The MLO of the civil hospital Dr Abdul Haq presented post-mortem reports of the fifteen people deceased in the incident.
He said that a certain type of chemical test of the dead-bodies could have ascertained the cause of the fire but there was no facility in the country to conduct those tests. read more.

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* Safety measures for workers being taken on emergency basis- Ministry:

Welfare schemes and awareness pro-garmmes for the labour are being initiated by the Labour Department in Sindh so that safety of the workers would be ensured in the industrial areas of the Sindh.

This was stated by Secretary Ministry of Labour Sindh, Arif Elahi. Speaking at the Korangi Associa-tion of Trade and Industry (KATI) on Thursday, the Secretary Labour stressed that the measures for the safety of labour in the factories are being taken on emergency basis.

He said that a training programme to create aware-ness among government functionaries, employers and employees to get them acquainted with labour laws and fire safety and hazards regulations. He said that international Labour Organization is also being involved to create awareness among both the em-ployees and employers. He said that Rs500,000 being disbursed among each family of those expired in the factory fire in Baldia Town. He agreed with the point raised by the President All Karachi Indus-trial Alliance Mian Zahid Hussain that after the 18th Amendment EOBI (Employees Old Age Benefit Institution) to the provinces.
read more.

* Toxic fumes caused the most deaths- Autopsy reports:


Doctors state carbon monoxide poisoning and improper ventilation led to most deaths. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

Inadequate ventilation, toxic fumes and carbon monoxide caused the majority of the 258 deaths at the Baldia garment factory fire. The findings were shared by the doctors who did the autopsies.

The three medico-legal officers (MLOs) of Civil, Jinnah and Abbasi Shaheed hospitals submitted the post-mortem reports at Wednesday’s hearing of the two-member tribunal investigating the fire. They all were, however, of the view that public hospitals in Karachi lacked chemical examination facilities, otherwise they could have pinpointed the actual cause of death.

Fifteen bodies were autopsied at Civil hospital of which five were unidentified, deposed Dr Khaliq Haq, the hospital’s senior MLO. “I believe the fire in plastics and other inflammable goods produced toxic gases and as there was no proper ventilation, most of the workers inhaled carbon monoxide and lost consciousness before being burnt,” he said, while requesting Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi to order that the government set up chemical examination facilities at public hospitals in Karachi. read more.

* Tribunal suspects police of hiding report:

The head of the Baldia factory fire tribunal, Justice (Retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi, on the final day of tribunal proceedings held here on Wednesday, slammed the police forensics division for its failure to submit a report on the tragic incident.

Meanwhile, the tribunal was informed by two senior government hospital medico-legal officers (MLOs) that a majority of casualties in the tragic incident were caused by inhalation of carbon monoxide.

Inspector Shahid Hasan Khan, who summoned by the tribunal, stated that his in-charge was in Australia to attend a seminar on forensic investigations and that he had taken the report with him.
Alvi refused to accept Khan’s claim, and ordered him to inspect his in-charge’s office and to submit the report at the earliest.

“Should we consider that you are refusing to furnish the record to the tribunal?” Alvi asked the inspector.
Separately, Additional Home Secretary Sindh Khalil Rehman Sheikh recalled that during a tribunal proceeding last week, two forensic experts submitted that the University of Karachi (KU) was sent some samples from the gutted industrial unit.
read more.

* Architect’s licence was cancelled in 2001:

The Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners confirmed on Thursday that it cancelled the registration of architect Muhammad Qamar Uddin in 2001, three years before he designed the ill-fated Ali Enterprise Baldia factory.

The architect joined the council on March 7, 1986 but his license was cancelled on January 21, 2001, said council chairperson Shama Usman.
“Perhaps he had stopped practicing,” she said, about the architect whose signatures allowed the factory design to be approved in 2004 by SITE, a government entity responsible for implementing building bylaws in the industrial estate.  Inquires to track the architect have led to dead ends. His enlistment number with the council is LA-0035. SITE is also looking for him.  to read.

* Post-fire incident: some suggestions:

The horrendous fire incident in the garment factory in Karachi should serve as a wake-up call for our government and relevant agencies.

A proper safety monitoring agency should be constituted at the federal level to streamline effective safety procedures for all types of works and facilities;
On construction contracts, safety advance should be given to contractors compulsorily along with mobilisation advance before commencement of work.

No work should be allowed to start on site until and unless the contractor complies with all relevant safety procedures and processes; for small structures also architects should design the fire-fighting arrangement which should be in line with necessary codes of the US-based National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA).

Architects and project managers should constantly monitor and certify the safety aspects on work sites and ensure effective implementation of standards in order to eliminate chances of any incident; the contractor’s safety officer should be held responsible in case of any accident; electrical inspection by the agency concerned should be mandatory for upcoming electrical facilites in a building and the certificate should be issued by competent and honest professionals. read more.

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* A sign at today’s (20120929) rally in Karachi, Pakistan: International Brands Are Responsible for 300 Deaths:

* Labour rules: 98% of factories have no trade unions, say rights activists :

The Baldia factory fire in which 258 workers were burnt to death has prompted much debate and discussion on how far Karachi’s industrialists follow the rules.
But such is the state of affairs that a shocking 98% of factories have no trade unions, as a result of which worker rights fall by the wayside.

On Saturday yet another press conference was held to train the spotlight on these problems. It was held by Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Jaffar Khan of the Muttahida Labour Federation, Habibuddin Junaidi of the All Pakistan Trade Union Federation, Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation, Mirza Maqsood of the Mazdoor Mahaz-e-Amal and Rehana Yasmin of the Hosiery Garments Textile Workers General Union.

“This is a vulnerable section of society but plays a pivotal role in generation revenue,” they said, referring to the labour force. “If labour laws are not implemented and the Baldia factory issue is not seriously tackled, exports will be affected.”
read more.

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* Manager of Baldia factory remanded:

A judicial magistrate remanded on Saturday a suspect in police custody in a Baldia Town factory blaze case and also extended the remand of five other men in the case till Oct 1.

The police said on Friday they arrested Mansoor, said to be a manager of the fire-struck garment factory, who had gone missing after the incident, and produced him in court.
The investigating officer said he was a key suspect and requested the court to grant his custody for interrogation.

Judicial magistrate (west) Sohail Ahmed Mashori handed him over to the police on physical remand till Oct 1 and told the IO to produce him again on the next hearing.
The court also extended the physical remand of three gatekeepers — Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Mehmood and Ali Mohammad — and two others — Hanif and Mohammad Majid who are said to be employees of the ill-fated factory — till Oct 1.
read more.
& read more.
 

* Fire station in SITE hasn’t had water in years over unpaid bills:

The fire station nearest the ill-fated garment factory in Baldia Town had not had a water supply for several years over unpaid bills.

“Even today, the water connection to the SITE fire station has not been restored,” said former city administrator Faheem Zaman – the guest speaker at a discussion on the Baldia fire held by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) at its office on Friday.
On September 11, more than 250 people were burnt alive in the inferno at Ali Enterprises, which is located along with 2,000 other factories within the jurisdiction of SITE fire station.

While talking to The Express Tribune, chief fire officer Ehtishamuddin confirmed that the water supply to SITE fire station had been disconnected, adding that in case of a fire in the area, the tenders go for a fill up at the Liaquatabad post office pumping station. read more.

* PRGMEA establishes support fund:

Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) has set up a support fund for the affected families who have lost their lives in the tragedy of fire in a factory in Baldia Town.

A meeting was held in PRGMEA office following the terrible fire incident at a garment factory in Karachi, which was largely attended the leading textile manufacturers and exporters. During the meeting PRHMEA members offered their deepest condolences to the families who have lost loved ones in this tragedy.

It was decided that a support fund for the rehabilitation will be created immediately and all members of PRGMEA shall contribute in the same. The attendees offered their full co-operation and support to the affected families and resolved that the garment industry shall give employment to all the skilled workers while vocational training will be imparted to families and children of the deceased workers.
read more.

* Spotlight on social compliance:

The horrific images of the recent twin factory fire incidents in leading metropolitan cities — Karachi and Lahore — have turned spotlight on the poor working conditions in the country’s industrial units.

Many Western importers, fearing ire of their consumers for dealing with socially irresponsible suppliers, are believed to have cancelled their orders and put some fresh negotiations for new deals on hold. There are reports that these orders have been diverted to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The real overall impact will become clear over the weeks and months ahead while many stress the need to vigorously counter the country’s adverse image created by the tragic incidents.

The garment exporters did try to brush two fires aside as unusual accidents, ignoring Ali Enterprise’s (in Karachi) Social Accountability ranking at 800th. It is a common knowledge that the bulk of garment business have been set up at even worse locations, having hazardous working environment.

Pakistan Readymade Garment Exporters Association suggested, through a press release, that they were considering introducing a system of self-monitoring for improving factory conditions to match international standards. “They will need to walk their talk before anyone notices them”, commented a labour economist.
read more.

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20121001

* No factory check sans business community representative-Teli:

Siraj Kassam Teli Chairman Businessmen Group has informed that industrialists had held a meeting with Governor Sindh Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan in presence of Commissioner & Deputy Commissioners.
It was agreed upon that in order to ‘discourage corruption’ no inspector would be allowed to enter the factory without a Business Community representative. In case of an anomaly the concerned industrialist would be given a timeframe to mend the glitch. Addressing the General Body Meeting at Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry held here at Aiwan-e-Tijarat on Saturday, Teli also regretted registration of case under 302crpc against owners of ill-fated factory in Baldia Town.

Meanwhile, addressing a Press Conference here at Karachi Press Club, Karamat Ali Executive Director Pakistan Institute of Labor Education & Research (PILER) has noted that labor laws, affirming universal right to social & economic well-being of the workers were grossly violated here, although Pakistan was a signatory of 38 ILO Conventions. PILER Chief asserting on the need of ensuring inspections of factories, maintained that Factories Act provided provisions of workers’ safety.

He also pointed out that ILO had expressed concern over the non-implementation of factories inspection in Pakistan: “At its 100th session, ILO had noted in the report that Pakistan adopted a national enforcement policy in 2006, which embodied the government commitment to implementing inspection & enforcing the law. Such a program sets the functions, goals & strategic objectives of labor inspection, the strategy for involving the main actors & approaches & means of action”.read more.

* Faryal distributes cheques among relatives of victims:

PPP leader and MNA Faryal Talpur on Sunday gave away compensation cheques to 31 relatives of fire victims of shoe factory, Bund Road in a ceremony here at Governor’s House.

Addressing the cheque distribution ceremony, she said that not only political parties but all of us should come forward to help the people who were affected in different incidents.

She said that there should be proper rules and regulations to check such like incidents besides ensuring the availability of safety equipments including escape route and others fire fighting equipments in the factories.

She thanked Malik Riaz of Bahria Town and Goodwill Ambassador for Orphan children Jahanara Wattoo for taking initiative to help the fire victims.

She urged the provincial governments to visit industrial areas and properly inspect them to ensure that no such incident take place in future.

She said that this money could never be the alternate of lives but the PPP was giving this money to the family members of affectees to tell them that the government is with them in this time of trial. read more. & read more.
  

* Workers’ safety and rights issues:

The Baldia Town inferno, described as the most tragic industrial disaster incident in the country, has brought into glaring focus not only a lingering obliviousness to occupational safety but a range of underlying labour right issues.

In a tribunal hearing, the owners of the factory have denied allegations of inadequate safety measures and are instead blaming the fire department for being unable to effectively control the flames. The fire department has in turn blamed short-circuiting due to power fluctuations for causing the fire in the first place. Moreover, in the aftermath of the Karachi incident, the Sindh labour minister even pointed a finger at the chief minister of Sindh for preventing action against those factories violating labour rights.

Such blame-shifting is not only confusing but also indicative of the continuing tendency to keep ignoring the underlying causes of problems until they explode into full-scale tragedies. read more.

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20121002

* 35 families of Karachi fire victims paid pensions:

The Senate Standing Committee on ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) was informed on Monday that the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) had paid pension to the families of 35 martyrs of Karachi factory fire while in total the families of all 295 martyrs would be paid pensions and other benefits.

The statement was made by Director-General (DG) Operations, EOBI, Javed Iqbal, during briefing on the EOBI affairs. Earlier, Secretary, ministry of HRD, Ahsan Raja, briefed the committee over the subject matter and said that action would be taken against those officials who had failed to register all the employees working at the factory which caught fire in Baldia Town, Karachi.

He said that around 3000 labourers were working in the factory but the employer had registered only 513 with the EOBI. However, he added that out of the 295 fire victims, 254 were registered. He added that pension forms had been issued to the families of all 295 people burnt alive in the incident by the EOBI and all families would be compensated. read more.

* Owners of Karachi fire factory granted bail till Oct 6:

A session Court of Karachi on Monday granted interim bail to three owners of the Ali Enterprises, a factory that was gutted in deadly fire that killed at least 258 people, till October 6.

Police in Karachi had registered a murder case against the owners of the factory Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila on Sept 13.
Additional District and Sessions Judge (West) Abdullah Channah directed them to submit surety of one million each.

The attorney of the owners said that his clients should be given chance to present their point of view.
He said that his clients were not leaving the country as their pass-ports have already been confiscated. Adding that, their accounts have also been frozen. The court ordered that accused should not be intimidated.
read more.
& read more. & read more. & read more.

* Owners granted interim bail; six others remanded:

Additional District and Sessions Judge (West) Abdullah Channa on Monday granted interim bail against a surety of Rs1 million each to the three owners of Ali Enterprises, a garments factory in Baldia Town where a massive fire had killed 259 people last month.

The court fixed October 13 for the confirmation of bail of Shahid Bhaila, Arshad Bhaila and Abdul Aziz Bhaila.The investigation officer, Jehanzeb, was directed to produce all legal documents relating to the case of the death of 259 people in the Category 3 blaze in at the factory.

The owners had also obtained bail from a Sindh High Court bench housed in Larkana.Advocate Amir Mansoor Qureshi, who pleaded the bail pleas of the factory owners, alleged that the investigation officer was trying to victimise his clients by issuing threats. He prayed to the court to grant bail before arrest to his clients.
read more.

* Contractor remanded in police custody:

The contractor who supplied workers to Ali Enterprises’ factory, which was engulfed by fire on September 11, has been remanded to police custody for two days.

The contractor, Mansoor Ahmed, had been nominated in cases of murder and attempted murder of the factory’s workers. The police presented him before Judicial Magistrate West Sohail Ahmed Mashoori, asking for Ahmed to be remanded to their custody for interrogation.

The judicial magistrate granted their request and remanded Ahmed to police custody for two days. The remand of the factory’s security guards, Fazal Khan, Arshad, Ali Mehmood, Hanif and Majid, was also extended. to read.

* ‘It’s the fire survivors that need attention now’:

Amidst the daily bustle of Baldia Town, people walk by the Ali Enterprises garment factory pretending it doesn’t exist.

Even from afar, the factory’s gutted skeleton serves as a haunting reminder of the horrific tragedy that took place three weeks ago. The grills and nets on the windows are broken and ripped, giving a glimpse of the browned ceilings and walls inside.

Most of those who live in the nearby colony are convinced they hear “shouts and screams” at night. Many others have stopped using the road altogether. But for those who work in factories in the vicinity, there is no choice but to cross the remains of the factory – day after day.

250 people were killed in the Baldia Town factory fire, a tragedy is probably the most fatal industrial disaster in the country’s history. Though rescue workers had battled with the inferno to save those trapped inside, all they could manage to recover were piles upon piles of charred body parts.

“For four consecutive hours, my family and I heard screams and cries for help,” remembers Fakhar Aiwan, a labourer who lives in a nearby colony.

Fakhar, a father of three, says his children can no longer sleep until he returns home from work. “They say they can still hear people shouting for help. My wife tries telling them there’s no one there any more. But they keep crying and insist they can hear the screams,” he shares.

Nadeem Ahmed, a survivor of the fire and resident of sector 3, says he can no longer sleep peacefully at night. “Even if I do, I wake up with a start with the sound of screams in my ears,” he narrates. read more.

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20121003

* No action: District govt turns blind eye to factories in residential areas:

The district government is perhaps waiting for a repeat of the twin industrial fire accidents in Lahore and Karachi to justify action against illegal factories operating in the residential areas of Rawalpindi.         

Business activities cannot be carried out in residential areas and the Town Municipal Administration (TMA) officers are bound to ensure a conducive environment for residents under the Punjab Local Government Ordinance. But a survey of the garrison city, reveals that the ground reality is quite different.

Around 130 illegal factories are functioning in various residential areas of the city, out of which 40 are located in Khyaban-e-Sir Syed, Bagh Sardaran and Khyaban-e-Iqbal areas. read more.

* With only 4 days to go, Adil’s wedding plans cut short:

 On the evening of September 11, Mohammad Adil was very excited. At his workplace, he waited anxiously for his salary to be handed out so that he could rush off to Saddar. At a men’s boutique there, an off-white embroidered sherwani waited for him. In four days, Adil was to wear the sherwani on his wedding day.

But the 22-year-old, who wanted everything to be just right at the reception, never got to see his new clothes or get his salary. For that evening while he stood waiting at Ali Enterprises, a fire broke out at the ill-fated garment factory, burning him and his younger brother Asif alive. They were among the 259 people who lost their lives in the Baldia factory blaze.

Only a week ago, Adil’s humble house in Orangi Town No 7 echoed with wedding songs. It is now home to grief-stricken people. Shell-shocked, his mother sits in a corner staring into space. Though a week has passed since her two sons perished in the fire, she refuses to budge from that end.

Adil’s room which was decorated with buntings and streamers for his big day remains as it is. “We haven’t removed anything from here,” said Adil’s elder brother Raheel crying. “We can’t believe he is gone.”

Two months ago, Adil had married a colleague from the factory in court against the family’s wishes. But after much pleading, the family gave in to his wishes and decided to hold a joint valima reception for Adil and his older brother on September 15. Like Adil and Asif, Raheel also worked at the factory but was on leave for his wedding. The three brothers worked as machine operators on the third floor of the factory, where the highest number of deaths were reported. read more.

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20121004

* 22 days later, some victims remain unidentified:

For many people in Karachi the tragedy of the Baldia factory fire ended soon after. But for some families, every day the disaster reminds them of their loves ones, who haven’t been identified or worse, found yet.

Twenty-two days after the inferno at Ali Enterprises where 258 workers were burnt alive, 39 bodies are still unrecognisable, unidentified and unclaimed at the Edhi morgue at Sohrab Goth.

On Wednesday, trade unionists and family members of the victims called on the government to issue the DNA reports of the unidentified victims immediately or they would set up a protest camp outside the press club.

“For the past 22 days, the families have been struggling to find the bodies, but neither the hospitals nor any institution is helping them,” said Nasir Mansoor, the deputy general secretary of National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan, while speaking at a news conference along with the bereaved family members. read more.

* After three weeks, families told to wait 15 more days:

The families of those who perished in the garment factory blaze in Baldia are helplessly waiting for the DNA reports that will help them identify the charred remains of their loved ones.

“We were initially informed that we will get the DNA reports in 15 days.
But after the passage of three weeks, we have been told to wait for 15 more days,” a relative told the media on Monday.
The families had gathered at the press club to speak at a news conference arranged by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF).
“Why isn’t legal action being taken against the culprits? The government has not even provided the heirs with the compensation money it had announced.”
read more.

* Deadly Pakistan Factory Fire Raises Questions Over Safety Inspections:

A leading trade union in Pakistan says factories in that country are more like death traps than work places.

Last month, nearly 300 people were killed when fire swept through the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi.
It turns out the factory had recently been inspected and had received the highest possible safety rating, even though faulty wiring and unsafe chemicals were found at the factory after the fire. And while the building was burning down, locked doors may have prevented some people from escaping. In fact, some workers jumped out of windows to escape the flames.

The New York-based Social Accountability International certified the factory. The organization says its mission is to advance human rights of workers around the world.
But Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, said SAI and other monitoring companies aren’t reliable.
“While SAI claims that its mission is to advance the rights of workers around the world, what SAI really does is protect the reputations of apparel brands around the world,” Nova told Here & Now’s Robin Young. read more.

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20121005

* Baldia factory investigation: Gates were closed on orders of owners when fire started, say witnesses:

The interim challan submitted to the court on Thursday, about the fire at Ali Enterprises, revealed that the factory gates were closed on orders of the owners and the general manager when the fire broke out.

The main suspect in the case who had the factory keys, Shah Rukh, is still a figutive while the factory owners, Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, have been granted bail by the Rawalpindi High Court. The general manager, Mansoor Ahmed, is in police custody.
The fire that broke out on September 11 claimed the lives of 258 workers in one of Pakistan’s worst industrial incidents.

The SITE-B police submitted the Challan to the second Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate, West, Sohail Ahmed Mashori, and obtained a remand of the suspects till October 16.
According to three witnesses – Abdul Majeed, Nazir Ahmed and Zubair – Shah Rukh and other gatekeepers closed the gates on orders of Mansoor who received his instructions from the owners. read more.

* Watchmen remanded in police custody:

Three watchmen of the fire-wrecked garment factory in Baldia Town were remanded to police custody by a judicial magistrate on Thursday.

SITE police produced the three accused watchmen, Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Muhammad and Ali Muhammad, before the court of Judicial Magistrate, West. Investigation officer (IO) told the court that according to initial investigations, watchmen locked the gates of the factory while salary was being disbursed among the workers. Judicial Magistrate, Sohail Ahmed Mashoori, remanded the accused to police custody till September 25 and directed the IO to submit case diaries on the next hearing. to read.

* Police find no evidence of arson in factory fire case:

Police have remained unable to arrive at any conclusion but mentioned gas leakage and short circuit as ‘possible causes’ of the fire in an interim charge-sheet filed in a court on Thursday in the Baldia fire-wrecked factory case.

While the case investigation officer in the interim charge-sheet stated that no evidence had been found to link the tragedy with arson, he accused the labour department, fire brigade, civil defence, Sindh Building Control Authority, Sindh Employees Social Security Institution and SITE of non-cooperation in the probe.
read more.

* Police submit interim charge sheet:

An interim charge sheet pertaining to the Baldia factory fire case was submitted in a local court here Thursday, DawnNews reported.

A garment factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town area suffered one of the nation’s worst industrial disasters last month when an enormous inferno swallowed down the factory, killing at least 258. Police currently is investigating the tragedy.
Police alleged that concerned departments were not cooperating in the investigation and neither have the DNA tests of some of the victims been conducted yet.

According to the police, SITE Association, Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC), Sindh Employees Social Security Institution, the civil defence, fire brigade, labour and other departments were not cooperating with investigators in the probe.
One of the important suspects in the case, the manager of the factory, is reportedly still at large.

The court ordered the police to arrest the factory manager and present him for the next hearing. Moreover, it had directed the police to identify those responsible for the disaster and submit a final charge sheet by Oct 16.
The court subsequently adjourned the hearing until Oct 16. to read.

* Court dissatisfied with incomplete charge sheet:

Judicial Magistrate (West-II) Sohail Ahmed Mashori on Thursday ordered the investigation officer (IO) in the Baldia factory fire case to submit the final charge sheet within 14 days.

The judge remarked that the IO had filed an incomplete interim charge sheet that did not provide details of the fire incident in which 259 people had died on September 11.
Expressing his dissatisfaction, he said the charge sheet did not mention the role of the owners of the ill-fated factory, Ali Enterprises, and relevant civic agencies, including the Civil Defence, Fire Brigade and Sindh Building Control Authority.

The IO however explained that the final charge sheet would provide each and every detail. He denied that any explosive materials were used in the industrial unit.
He pointed out that he had written letters to the SBCA director and other officials representing the Civil Defence, Fire Brigade, lahour department and others, seeking assistance in probing the cause of the fire. He said a government official of Grade-18 could coordinate and investigate the cause of the fire. read more.

* A rally was organized in solidarity with the victims:

A rally was organized in solidarity with the victims of families at Karachi and Lahore Factory Workers by Pakistan Textile Garments and Leather Workers Federation (PTGLWF) under the president ship of Mr. Aslam Wafa at Faisalabad on 30-09-2012.

Large numbers of workers from different factories of Textile,Garments and Power looms joined the rally.
The rally was started from District Council Hall and ended at Press Club Faisalabad.

At the end Mr. Aslam Wafa President (PTGLWF),Faqeer Hussain Saghar Chairnman (PTGLWF) , Afzal Awan President Jahanbaaz Labour Federation Punjab and Sajid Hussain Office bearer of Power Looms Workers Union Spoke and demanded that the Government should:
1. Pay the compensation to the all families whose members were lost their lives or   injured during the incident.
2.The responsible persons must be made an accountable and no concession must be given to the owners of Ali Enterprises ( Karachi Garments) and Lahore Shoe Factory.
3. It should be ensured that the health and safety measures be fully implemented in all factories.
4. The labour inspection be made meaningful and effective and those  who failed to comply with the law strain action be taken against them .
5. A consultation be organised at Government level where all trade unions and employers be called to make appropriate recommendations for health and safety .

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2012107

* Court rejects Bhaila brothers’ interim bail, orders arrest:

A local court on Saturday rejected interim bail of Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila, the owners of Ali Enterprises, the gutted Baldia Town garments factory, and General Manager Mansoor Ahmed; however, it granted bail confirmation of Abdul Aziz Bhaila, the father of Shahid and Arshad.

Additional District and Session Judge (ADJ), Karachi (West) Abdullah Channa was hearing an application for bail confirmation submitted by owners of gutted garment factory Abdul Aziz Bhaila, Arshad and Shahid Bhaila to confirm them interim bail.

The court granted bail confirmation to Abdul Aziz on the basis of his age and bad health factors, while the ADJ rejected bail confirmation application of his two sons Shahid and Arshad and ordered their arrest.

During the proceeding of the applications, senior superintendent of police Saqib Sultan and investigation officer of the case, applicants’ counsel and government prosecutor were also present in the court.
read more.
& read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
        
  

* Two of three Ali Enterprises owners sent to jail:


Arshad Bhaila, one of the owners of Ali Enterprises, after attending court on Saturday. PHOTO: PPI

Two of the three owners of the ill-fated garment factory, where 258 people were burnt alive on September 11, have been sent to jail as their police custody ran out.

The judicial magistrate VI, Muhammad Afzal Roshan, turned down the police’s request to grant them more time to question Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila. The businessmen surrendered in court after their request for bail was dismissed by a district and sessions court. The police were, however, allowed to investigate the suspects inside prison.

The two brothers have been sent to jail until October 16. The police had requested the court for 14 days to interrogate them in order to complete the list of charges, but the Bhaila lawyer, Amir Mansoob Qureshi, argued that the police have already prepared an interim charge sheet and his clients have been held responsible for the fire. read more  & read more.
 

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20121009

* Workers’ Rights Movement in Pakistan Gains Momentum: Court Orders Arrest of Ali Enterprises Owners:

It is Saturday, October 6th, 8:30 AM and members of the Workers’ Rights Movement in Pakistan are out front of the City Court in Karachi, protesting to make sure that bail is not granted again to the owners of the garment factory Ali enterprises, where 289 workers died on September 11th in the deadliest factory fire in history to date. 

The owners have been granted bail three times already, on September 14, on September 21, and on October 1: catastrophic kicks in the stomach to efforts of trade unions, labor rights activists and factory workers, and families of victims to hold the owners responsible for atrocious conditions that led to the fires, and properly mourn the deaths of their friends, coworkers and family. So today workers and family members are out in numbers, bearing pictures of the dead and signs demanding justice. They are making sure that this does not happen again. Already in the early morning there is a small victory: all major news channels have broken the news about the demonstration outside of the courthouse.

The proceedings begin. The District Judge Abdullah Channa is listening to arguments presenting evidence that the factory gates were closed on orders of the owners and the general manager after the fire broke out. At the very least this amounts to unpardonable criminal negligence. Already at 10am the proceeding ends, but District Judge Channa withholds his judgment. read more.

* Cheque for families of victim of factory fire:

The representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad, handed over cheque granted by China amounting to Rs 2 million to the Chief Secretary Sindh, Raja Muhammad Abbas, for the families of victims of fire tragedy at Karachi.

It is stated that a simple ceremony in this regard was held at the Chief Secretary House on Monday morning.
The Deputy Chief Protocol, Rehan Naseer Siddiqui, handed over the cheque to Chief Secretary on behalf of the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan.
Secretary Labour Arif Illahi and Commissioner Karachi, Syed Hashim Raza Zaidi, were also present. The disbursement thereof would be made by the Commissioner of Karachi. to read.

* Baldia fire mystery deepens as 70 persons still missing:

As the report of the Sindh government’s inquiry tribunal set up to investigate the Baldia Town factory inferno is keenly awaited, the mystery behind the deadly incident is deepening with each passing day, with more than 70 families of missing Ali Enterprises workers still looking for their loved ones and 39 charred bodies being kept at the Edhi morgue.

While the authorities are firm on 259 deaths in the last month’s tragic incident, the number of persons who were inside the industrial unit at the time of the fire and missing since put a serious question mark over their fate and the total number of casualties.

Background interviews with grieving families and interaction with labour and non-governmental organisations engaged with these families after the tragedy suggest that there are more than 70 families in the Baldia Town, Orangi Town and SITE whose loved ones have not yet returned home after the fire incident, which has turned the Ali Enterprise factory into a haunted place. read more.

* Govt told to speed up victims’ identification:

Finally there’s some hope for some 70 families whose beloved remain unidentified almost a month after the tragic Baldia factory fire.

The Sindh High Court has told the Sindh government to speed up the DNA matching process to identify the remaining victims of the country’s worst industrial disaster. The court has also ordered the authorities to submit the complete details of those killed or injured in the tragedy and provide compensation to the bereaved families.

On Monday, Justice Maqbool Baqir, heading a two-member bench, was hearing five similar petitions filed by different non-governmental organisations seeking judicial inquiry of the garment factory inferno that claimed 258 lives on September 11.

The petitioners’ lawyer, Faisal Siddiqui, moved a miscellaneous application to call complete details from the Sindh government of how many government departments or private bodies had announced compensation and who had so far given the money to the victims’ families or the survivors. read more.

* SHC orders expediting DNA testing of bodies:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday directed provincial government to expedite process of conducting DNA test of nearly 70 bodies of unidentified people who lost lives in deadly fire in garments factory in Baldia town last month.

A division bench, headed by Justice Maqbool Baqir, also directed all concerned to submit complete details of those killed or injured in the tragedy and provision of monetary compensation to their families.

Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and others non-profit organisations had filed five petitions, seeking judicial inquiry into Baldia factory inferno incident that claimed over 250 lives and injured many others on September 11, 2012.

Petitioners had sought constitution of judicial commission to fix responsibility on persons responsible for incident and suggest monetary compensation to legal heirs of inferno victims. read more. & read more.
  
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20121010

* Witnesses forced to testify against accused, JM told:

In an unexpected move, two eyewitnesses deposed on Tuesday against police for allegedly detaining and coercing them to testify against the accused in the Baldia factory fire case.

On a request of the investigation officer, a judicial magistrate recorded the statements of Abdul Majeed, an accountant, and Mohammad Zubair, a supervisor, under Section 164 of the criminal procedure code in the presence of the suspects.
Both the witnesses said they were present at the industrial unit when the deadly fire engulfed it and deposed that they had been in police custody for around three weeks and forced to sign the statements recorded by the IO under Section 161 of the CrPC.

They alleged that the investigators were pressing them to depose against the accused in order to strengthen the case of the prosecution.
They deposed that in case of non-compliance, the police had allegedly extended threats to them and their families. read more.

* Two witnesses testify factory doors were open:

The Baldia factory fire’s investigation took a turn on Tuesday when two of the 301 witnesses testified against the police in a district and sessions court, saying that their previous statements were “forced”.

On September 11, Karachi saw one of its worst industrial fires at Ali Enterprises in which 258 workers were burnt or suffocated to death.
According to the two witnesses, Muhammad Zubair and Abdul Majeed, they were pressured by the police to say that the factory doors were closed when the fire started. They informed the court on Tuesday that the doors were open and that is how some of the workers managed to escape as there was no other way out.

Zubair, supervisor of the finishing department in Ali Enterprises, stated before the court that he was present on his floor when the fire started and informed the labourers about it.
“I started evacuating my floor through the stairs as soon as I learnt about the fire,” he said. “Around 100 women and 80 men escaped through the main gate.”

Zubair alleged that he was tortured in police custody for the last 22 days and needed protection for himself and his family. “My life is in danger and I need protection,” he urged the judge. read more.

* Police accused of extorting statements against Baldia factory owners:

Two witnesses in the Baldia garments factory fire case recorded fresh statements on Tuesday accusing police of forcing them to record false statements against the owners of the industrial unit.

Appearing before Judicial Magistrate (West-II) Sohail Ahmed Mashori, the two witnesses – accounts manager Abdul Majeed and supervisor Zubair of the ill-fated factory — withdrew their earlier statements recorded by the investigation officer under Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Majeed said he was arrested 25 days back and forced by police into giving evidence against the owners of the factory, where a Category 3 blaze had killed 259 workers on September 11.

He claimed that the owners of the factory had provided full assistance in saving at least 82 male and female workers from the inferno.
Zubair backed Majeed’s account and said the police had forced them to record their statements against the owners. read more.

* IO allowed to record two owners’ statements:

Judicial Magistrate (West-II) Sohail Ahmed Mashori on Monday allowed a plea of the investigation officer (IO) to record statements of Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila, two of the owners of the ill-fated garments factory in Baldia Town where a fire had killed 259 workers last month.

IO Jahanzeb was empowered to get the custody of the two and bring them to court on October 9 so their evidence could be recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The investigation officer said Additional District and Sessions Judge (West) Abdullah Channa had not confirmed the bail of the two owners and had sent them to prison on Saturday, enabling him to investigate the case with the permission of the court.
read more.

* China donates Rs2m to victims’ heirs:

The Chinese government has donated Rs2 million to the families of the victims who died in the Baldia factory fire. The foreign affairs ministry’s deputy chief of protocol, Rehan Naseer Siddiqui, handed over the cheque to the Sindh chief secretary, Raja Muhammad Abbas, at a meeting held at the chief secretary house on Monday. The labour secretary, Arif Illahi, and the newly appointed commissioner of Karachi, Hashim Raza Zaidi, were also present. to read.

* Businessmen warn opting full shutdown:

Business community in Karachi remains extremely disturbed and may opt for a complete shut down if the government did not take stringent measures to control deteriorating law and order situation, warned leader of the business community S M Muneer.

Addressing as a chief guest at a dinner reception in honor of newly elected Chairman Korangi Association of Trade and Industry, Mohammad Zubair Chhaya by DSI Group at a local hotel, Muneer said that in a meeting of trade and industry’s representatives it was decided to shut down trade and industry across the country for two days.
(….)
On the issue of Baldia Town tragedy Muneer said that it was not possible that a factory owner having Rs.2 billion exports put his own factory on fire. He said that the factory should be reopened so that over 1,500 workers rendered jobless should be given employment.   read more.

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20121011

* SHC calls for comments on Baldia fire tragedy:

* Directs civic, law enforcement, building control and factories  regulatory bodies to submit their reports

The Sindh High Court on Wednesday once again directed civic, law enforcement, building control and factories regulatory bodies to submit their respective reports regarding the devastating fire in garment factory fire that killed over 280 people alive in Baldia town last month.

A division bench, headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam, repeated notice after none of government departments filed comments despite issuance of direction to them on the last hearing.
Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and other non-governmental organisations had moved the court to seek judicial probe into Baldia town factory inferno that killed over 280 workers on September 11, 2012.
Petitioners had sought constitution of a judicial commission to fix responsibility for incident and suggest monetary compensation to legal heirs of inferno victims.
read more. & read more.
 

* JI will pay for orphans till Matric:

The Jamaat-e-Islami has distributed initial amount of Rs5 million to about 200 families affected by the September 11 fire at a factory in Baldia. It will also pay a monthly stipend of Rs2,500 for each child of a victim till they matriculate. The orphaned girls would be fully assisted till they complete their education.

JI Pakistan chief Syed Munawar Hassan distributed the cheques at a small ceremony at the party’s Karachi headquarter on Wednesday.
He admitted that it was a small amount and could not compensate for the lives lost but it would hopefully mitigate some of the financial problems.

So far 259 people have been declared dead in the incident. Out of this 202 were residents of Baldia and Orangi towns, six from the central district, one from Bin Qasim. Also, 39 bodies have yet to be identified. The heirs of 11 victims have not approached any government authority. to read.

* Mourning day:

This refers to the PPP’s decision of observing a day of mourning on Oct 8 for those who were killed in a firing incident at a PPP gathering in Khairpur.

A few weeks ago, almost 300 people perished in a fire accident in a Karachi factory but the Sindh government did not announce any mourning for them.
This is just one example.
Let us rise above political affiliations and think for every life in Pakistan, regardless of ethnic or religious origins.

to read.

* Factory certification body fails to assist victims of Karachi factory fire:

Labour rights groups call upon Social Accountability International (SAI) to release information on brand buyers and factory audit reports

* Victims of tragic factory fire in Pakistan are denied  crucial information to hold brand buyers accountable

* SAI and SAAS refuse to cooperate in identifying international buyers that were at the factory or release the findings of accredited auditors

* SA8000 certification gave clean bill of health to Ali Enterprises factory that went up in flames and cost the lives of nearly 300 garment workers

Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN), International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF)  and the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF) are calling upon New York-based Social Accountability International (SAI) and its related body Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS) to release information about the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Pakistan, where 300 workers were killed in a factory fire last month. Ali Enterprises had received an SA8000 certification for decent working conditions from the SAAS-accredited Italian auditor Registro Italiano Navale Group (RINA) only one month prior to the tragedy.

The SA8000 standard, developed and promoted by SAI, applies to all industrial sectors and is supposed to guarantee that production takes place under decent working conditions. The standard includes respect for human and labour rights, a prohibition of child labour, and protection of health and safety in the workplace.

On 11th of September 2012 nearly 300 workers were killed when fire ripped through the factory which was producing jeans for export. The factory was not legally registered with the Pakistan government and had failed to provide the majority of workers with employment contracts. The high death toll resulted from inadequate fire exits, blocked staircases and barred windows, preventing many workers from escaping the blaze.

Says Nasir Mansoor from the National Trade Union Federation in Pakistan: ‘It is unbelievable that major apparel companies and accreditation bodies are hiding their involvement in the Ali Enterprises factory or denying their responsibility for the fire. The families of the deceased and injured workers deserve full transparency about the role of auditing organisations that gave a clean bill of health to the factory’s safety, and the brands that were able to make profits at the expense of workers’ safety.’

In an answer to a letter from the coalition of international labour rights groups, SAI and SAAS denied any responsibility for the fire, citing confidentiality agreements as the reason neither they nor the Italian auditing company, RINA, can share any information they possess about the factory. They claim that RINA and SAAS are both conducting investigations, but refuse to share their information with the worker representatives in Pakistan.

‘The terrible events of the 11th September highlight the weaknesses of the SAI certification system, which has badly let down those it is paid to protect,’ said Deborah Lucchetti of the Italian Clean Clothes Campaign. ‘If SAI is to maintain any credibility it must drop the veil of secrecy it is currently hiding behind and start cooperating with those groups working for justice for the victims of the Ali Enterprises fire.’
read more. & read more.

   

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20121212

* Agonising wait ends as seven factory fire victims identified:

News of the death of loved ones in the Baldia garments factory fire last month must have been devastating. What is equally agonising is the wait many families have had to face for the identification of victims burnt beyond recognition. For seven families, that wait ended on Thursday.

The Edhi Foundation received the bodies of seven victims after DNA tests, and sent them to their families.

The victims identified are Mohammad Hanif, resident of Orangi Town, Mohammad Asif, resident of Baldia Town, Mohammad Imran, resident of Nazimabad, Mohammad Israr, resident of Baldia Town, Amna Bibi, wife of Allah Bukhsh, resident of Baldia Town, Masood ul Hassan, resident of Federal B Area, and Mohammad Faizan, resident of Baldia Town.

Edhi officials insist they received 202 bodies at their Sohrab Goth morgue, while government officials have put the death toll at 259.  read more.

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20121014

* Health, safety for factory workers demanded:

Demanding provision of health and safety for workers at factories, scores of labourers, factory workers and trade union members staged a protest outside Lahore Press Club on Saturday.
All Pakistan Trade Union Federation (APTUF) had organised the protest against price hike, worst load shedding, absence of labour laws, ban on trade unions, absence of health and safety issues of workers, minimum wages for workers, poor economic condition of Pakistan Railways, privatisation and poor law and order situation in country.
The protesters urged the government to implement labour laws in the country besides ensuring minimum wages for workers.
They demanded capital punishment for those who were responsible for more than 370 deaths in fire incidents in factories of Karachi and Lahore.
They also shouted slogans against ant-labour policies of the government “that are supporting capitalist policies”.
Labour leaders, speaking on the occasion, said that Pakistan was signatory of 38 ILO conventions and all the country’s labour laws affirmed the universal right to social and economic well being of workers.

According to protesters, 99 percent workers do not have “any kind of social security and old age benefit because the condition for it is to have a permanent job in a factory and permanent jobs are very rare these days as most of the workers are hired on contracts or on daily wages. Unions don’t exist in most of the industrial sector, which is encouraged by rulers”.
They said there is also no justice for workers in labour courts.
read more.

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20121015

* Factory fire: misery of victims’ kin:

After the Baldia factory fire tragedy, every other day there is news that fire erupted in some other factory in the Site area. Whenever there is such news, one recalls terrible scenes.

Beside this, certain questions come to mind such as in the future what will happen in case of a fire in any factory as we do not have trained fire brigade. Ill-trained staff is dangerous as more lives will be at stake. When fire breaks out, it spreads very fast and workers having no knowledge and experience are vulnerable. Appointment of political workers in this sensitive department is a big question.

The civil defence is another department which is in a pathetic condition. No one from this department comes to inspect factories. Inspectors responsible for this job do not perform their duties. They should check fire extinguishers installed in factories. Firefighting rehearsals should be performed periodically.
But it would be possible only when high-ups of this department feel that this is their primary responsibility.

Labour inspectors should fulfil responsibilities of their their duties regularly. They should check what kind of facilities and benefits are available. If there are no facilities, they should try to improve the conditions and make sure that laws are implemented. read more.

* Workplace fires: ‘Prepare because you never think it could happen to you’ :


The Baldia factory fire, in which 259 people died, has brought to light how unaware people are at the workplace when a fire breaks out. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

If details such as the load on one electrical outlet, gap in ventilation pipes and blocked emergency exits are overlooked at a workplace, it could cost you your life if a fire breaks out.

The Baldia factory fire, in which 259 people died, has brought to light how unaware people are at the workplace when a fire breaks out. It has also thrown into relief the incomprehensive training of firefighters.
To educate people, volunteers from the Fire Protection Association of Pakistan held a workshop on Saturday, to train staff from safety companies and businesses on how to deal with such emergencies.

“The companies are now realising how important the subject is,” said the secretary of the association and one of the trainers, Tariq Moen. The factory fire was not taken seriously enough as only eight companies out of the 50 invited sent staff for the one-day training session. “We take precautions for granted,” said Moen.  Moen pointed out that you don’t walk in a room filled with smoke because the fumes rise towards the roof. “The best way is to crawl and drag the injured to safety on your knees.” read more.

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20121016

* Urge KIK to identify buyers and pay compensation to Pakistan fire victims:

On the left, jeans in a Kik shop in Germany. On the right, labels found in the ashes in Pakistan

On Tuesday 11th September almost 300 workers were killed when a fire ripped through the  Ali Enterprises factory in Karachi, Pakistan. At the time of the fire the factory was producing jeans for the German low cost retailer, KIK, which has more that 3000 stores in eight European countries.

Although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, it is clear that the high death toll was caused by appalling health and safety conditions at the factory. At the time of the fire windows were closed with bars, fire exits were locked and there was no equipment available to fight the fire.

The factory had been regularly audited in recent years, yet the factory itself was not legally registered and had failed to provide employment contracts.

Although KIK was forced to acknowledge their role in the tragedy, they have since refused to engage in meaningful discussion and have taken no action to provide remedy in this case.

KIK has claimed that extensive auditing taking place in the years since 2006 lead to improvements in the fire safety regulations. The events of 11th September prove that such improvements were clearly insufficient. The audits failed to show that the factory was running illegally, the lack of fire exits and the fact that all windows were barred, leaving no way for the smoke to escape. KIK needs to admit that its audit process is not reliable. The audit did not prevent the deaths of almost 300 workers and does not exempt KIK from responsibility in this case. (…)

Now is not the time for excuses: call on KIK now to demand they:

* ensure transparency;
* ensure compensation to the victims;
* take all measurements to prevent future disasters;
* support and participate in the investigation.

read more & Please, take a moment to sign our Urgent Appeal.

* Court to announce order on Baldia investigation today (Tuesday):

A court will announce its order on Tuesday (today) on how investigation authorities should proceed further in the case against the owners of the Ali Enterprises, in whose Baldia Town factory a devastating fire claimed the lives of nearly 300 people.

The Additional District and Sessions Judge (West), after hearing the arguments of the prosecution and the defense counsels, reserved its order for October 16. Investigation Officer (IO) Sub-Inspector Jehanzeb moved an application praying that the court cancel the judicial custody of the two owners of Ali Enterprises, Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila, and hand them over to police custody for an investigation.
read more.

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20121017

* Failure to bring accused to court irks magistrate:

The court hearing the Baldia factory fire case expressed its annoyance on Friday over the jail authorities’ failure to produce the six accused who were previously remanded.

Judicial Magistrate (West-II) Sohail Ahmed Mashori ordered the authorities to now produce the accused before the court on October 23. The court also directed the DIG to monitor the situation.
The magistrate asked the investigation officer of the case, Jahanzeb, to ensure that reports about the functioning and liabilities of the civic agencies on the day of the fire, in which over 250 people were killed, were submitted before the court.

The six accused include Mansoor Idrees, the general manager of the ill-fated garment factory, and employees dealing with security matters, security supervisor Arshad Mehmood, Majid Beg, Haneef and watchmen Ali Muhammad and Fazal Ahmed. read more.

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20121018

* Court orders jailer to present factory owners:

The central jail superintendent has been told by a court to explain why he failed to produce the Baldia garment factory owners in court on Tuesday.

Ali Enterprises owners, Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila, the factory’s general manager, Mansoor Ahmed, and security guards Fazal Ahmed, Ali Muhammad and Arshad Mehmood were to appear before the Judicial Magistrate West to testify in the factory fire case, relating to the death of 259 people on September 11.

On Tuesday, the defence lawyers said that the court had issued production orders for the suspects but the jail authorities didn’t bring them to the court. The lawyers had requested the court to take action against the jailers.

The case investigation officer told the court that an application has been filed in a sessions court to allow interrogation of the suspects. The investigation cannot proceed without the court’s decision on the application. The officer requested the court to grant more time to submit the final charge-sheet. read more.

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20121019

* Baldia fire case: Court allows police plea for custody:

A sessions court on Thursday allowed an application filed by police seeking the custody of the Bhaila brothers and factory’s general manager in the Baldia fire case.

Setting aside an order of a judicial magistrate who sent the suspects to jail on judicial remand, additional district and sessions judge (west) Abdullah Channa directed the jail authorities to hand over the custody of Arshad Bhaila, Shahid Bhaila and Mansoor to the police investigators between dawn and dusk for a couple of days.

The judge ordered the investigating officer to get the custody of the suspects on Oct 19 and 20 after the sunrise and bring them back to the prison before the sunset, with a direction that the suspects be interrogated only at the Site-B police station.
The court also directed jail officials to hold medical check-up of the suspects before handing them over to the police and after getting back their custody. read more.

* Court remands owners into ‘dusk to dawn’ police custody:

The owners and general manager of the garment factory in Baldia Town, Ali Enterprises, were remanded into police custody for two days – but only from sunrise to sunset.

The fifth additional and sessions judge, West, Abdullah Channah, gave custody of the two factory owners, Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, and general manager Mansoor Ahmed to the police on Thursday.

The judge directed jail authorities to hand over the suspects to the investigating officer, Jahanzaib Khan, from sunrise to sunset on October 19 and 20. He further instructed the jail authorities to medically examine the suspects before they go for interrogation and after they return. The medical certificates of these examinations will be submitted in court.

According to the court’s orders, the suspects will be kept in the limits of SITE B police station and cannot be taken anywhere else for interrogation. The investigating officer and jail authorities were asked to strictly follow the timings.
read more.
& read more.
    

* Labourers’ body to protest tomorrow:

The Workers Rights Movement (WRM) has announced to observe mourning day on October 20 (Saturday) on the occasion of Chelum of labourers who were burnet alive in Baldia factory inferno.

The WRM, which represents more than 70 organisations including trade unions, political, social and human rights associations, has also announced to organise a condolence meeting in front of Ali Enterprises on Saturday to offer prayers for around 300 workers who lost their lives in the fire incident.

This was announced by Nasir Mansoor while addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Thursday. He was flanked by Usman Baloch, Ghulam Muhammad Jadoon, Zahra Khan and other WRM representatives.

Mansoor said that the government acted in a completely irresponsible manner after the September 11 fire incident as it did to take any effective measures to prevent such incidents in future, which shows that the government was least bothered about the issues of working class. read more.

* Baldia factory blaze: Forget the toll, it’s just about closure now:

A month-and-a-half since the disaster, there is no official record, no list, no names being put forward by authorities of how many were present the day the fire broke out, or an exact death toll. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

The flames may have long been extinguished, but the ghosts of the ill-fated Baldia Town factory continue to haunt.

For Rasheeda, a visit to the gutted factory is almost an everyday routine. In front of the sealed building, enclosed by police officers and containers, she puts forward the usual question about her son Khurshid.
“Has his body been found?”
“No bibi. Go away from here. No one can go inside.”

And just like any other day since September 11, she returns home with no news about her son, one of 259 people who perished in the flames of Pakistan’s largest factory fire. Rasheeda is from one of 70 families who all but know their fate, but continue to wait for that final closure.
A month-and-a-half since the disaster, there is no official record, no list, no names being put forward by authorities of how many people worked at the factory, how many were present the day the fire broke out, or an exact death toll.

Investigation Officer Jahanzaib Khan told The Express Tribune that he has requested the court to allow him to meet the owners of the factory to fetch records of the workers — both alive and deceased.
Jahanzaib has finally conceded that the number of workers feared dead might be much higher than what authorities have revealed officially.

“The death toll might be higher. The confusion would clear once we are allowed to retrieve information from the factory’s administration block which was safe from the fire.”
But with only 500 of the said 1,200 workers registered, this seems a daunting task, he adds.

With such discrepancies, chances of the number of workers who died in the inferno seem to be higher than the official toll of 259. The police officer has received 100 complaints of people gone missing in the factory fire. Social activists have put up a list of 74 victims whose bodies have not been found yet. read more.

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20121020

* Joint efforts urged to safeguard rights of workers:

The recent deadly fire incident in a Karachi garment factory, in which more than 300 workers were burnt alive, was the wake up call for protecting the rights of workers in Pakistan and this could be done only when all stakeholders took joint efforts, said speakers of a speakers of protest demonstration-cum-condolence meeting for martyred workers of Ali Enterprises.
The event was organised under the banner of Workers Right Movement (WRM) to pay the tribute to the victims of fire incident of the garment factory, Ali Enterprises, on the occasion of Chelum of deceased workers in front of the burnt factory in Baldia Town on Saturday.
A large number of workers participated in the condolence meeting. On the appeal of WRM in all industrial zones of Karachi, a ‘Mourning Day’ was observed and black flags were hoisted on industries to express solidarity with the victims of the fire incident.
The labourers’ representatives, on this occasion, paid glowing tribute to the martyrs of the fire incident and expressed their commitment to continue struggle till achieving rights for the workers.read more.to read.
   
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20121021

* SHC suspends owners’ remand into police custody:

The drama over the custody of the owners of the Baldia garment factory continued for the second consecutive day, as the Sindh High Court suspended the lower court’s order to remand the Bhaila brothers into police custody.

On Thursday, the fifth additional and sessions judge, West, Abdullah Channah, gave custody of the two factory owners, Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, and general manager Mansoor Ahmed to the police – only for two days and that too from sunrise to sunset. The court had also ordered medical examinations of the brothers before and after the interrogation. The Bhaila brothers approached the SHC on Friday through one of their relatives, who submitted that there was potential risk to their lives outside the prison. read more.

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20121024

* Court extends deadline for final list of charges to Nov 2:

The owners of Ali Enterprises, Arshad and Shahid Bhaila, appear for the hearing on Tuesday. PHOTO: PPI

The deadline for the final list of charges or challan in the Baldia factory fire case was extended to November 2 by the second judicial Magistrate, West, Sohail Ahmed Mashori, on Tuesday.

The case pertains to a September 11 fire that broke out in the factory, killing at least 289 workers in what was called the country’s worst industrial incident.
The investigating officer, Jahanzaib Khan, requested the court for more time to submit the challan as he said the police was still waiting on reports from different organisations.

Khan told the court that the factory was not built according to the approved construction plan and that machinery was blocking the exit and entry points inside. According to the fire brigade’s report, the fire did not start due to inflammatory materials.
Another reason for the delay in the submission of the challan, according to the officer, was that the owners of Ali Enterprises had not provided the factory data.
read more.

* Discounter Offers $1,930 Per Victim in Factory Fire:

German discount textile retailer Kik plans to pay damages totalling $500,000 to the families of more then 250 workers who died in a fire at a Pakistan factory used to produce its clothing. The families say that is too little and are threatening to sue.

Six weeks ago, at least 259 workers died in a fire in the Pakistani port city of Karachi at a factory that produced jeans for German discount textile and clothing retailer Kik. The disaster created unfavorable headlines for the Western company because it highlighted the poor working conditions of many who create the inexpensive products sold by discounter firms. This week, the company said it is planning to pay out a combined $500,000 (€383,700) to the families of the dead, a figure that works out to about $1,930 per victim.

“That’s not that much at all,” says Nasir Mansoor of Pakistan’s National Trade Union Federation (NTUF). “Furthermore, we don’t know when and how the payment is supposed to come through.” If the payout remains this low, then the worker’s families want to file suit against Kik. Their goal, according to Mansoor, is for every victim’s family to “receive acceptable compensation.

The factory, operated by Ali Enterprises, produced jeans that were sold for €15.99 in Kik stores under the “Okay” brand. The German retailer, based in the town of Bönen in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, only admitted a connection to the factory after a non-governmental organization confronted the company. Kik executive Michael Arretz admitted that Kik was responsible for 75 percent of the factory’s orders. But employees with Ali Enterprises say that, without a doubt, “at least 90 percent” of the products produced there were intended for Kik. read more.

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20121025

* German firm to compensate Pakistan factory fire victims:

A German discount clothing retailer has agreed to pay more than $1.2 million compensation for victims of a Pakistani factory fire, a union leader said on Wednesday.

The blaze in September at the Ali Enterprises factory in Karachi, which made ready-to-wear garments for Western stores, killed 289 workers and injured 110 more.

German news magazine Der Spiegel reported in its online edition on Tuesday that the Kik chain, which the factory supplied with jeans, had agreed to pay a total of $500,000 compensation – less than $2,000 for every life lost.

Nasir Mansoor, head of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), a local union for Pakistani factory workers, said his organisation and the Clean Clothes Campaign (3-C), an international group striving for better conditions for garment workers, had forced Kik to up the compensation. read more. & read more. & read more.
    

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20121030* Textile discounter KIK makes cheap offer to victims of Pakistan garment
factory fire:

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) calls on the german textile discounter KIK to pay a fair and just compensation for all the victims of the garment factory fire at Ali Enterprises in Pakistan. The immediate relief payments that KIK promised are urgently needed and welcomed, but the amount pledged covers less than 4% of what ultimately will be needed.

According to recent press articles KIK is presently offering an amount of 500.000 US$ for immediate relief to the victims of a fire that broke out September 11th at jeans manufacturer Ali Enterprises in Karachi and killed at least 318 workers.

Lars Stubbe from the CCC Germany says in regard to the KIK offer:
“The CCC appreciates that one month after the tragedy KIK as the main buyer and as one of Europe’s leading textile discounters finally is taking some responsibility for immediate relief. This first offer is seen as a part of a substantially higher payment of compensation.
CCC urges KIK to come to an agreement with local trade unions and labour rights groups to ensure that the entire amount due will be covered and prevention measures implemented.”

CCC believes that the offer of 1 million US$ in total (500.000 US$ for immediate relief and 500.000 US$ for the longer term that KIK confirms over email they are willing to make) is far too small.
Conservative calculations based on international standards and good practice indicate that at least 20 million Euro’s (about 25.8 million US$) will be needed for fair and just compensation, covering damages as well as loss of income, for the families of all deceased. On top of that medical costs and compensation for the injured will
need to be paid.

CCC appreciates that KIK has consulted credible local organisations on the distribution of the money for immediate relief and trusts that the funds are disbursed transparently and quickly to the suffering victims. However an agreement between KIK and the key local trade unions and organisations involved, including those consulted so far, on the entire amount due by KIK and on the implementation of
prevention measures is still outstanding.

“Immediate relief payments are urgently needed and welcomed, in particular to the families of the unidentified death who so far have received no compensation at all” says Ineke Zeldenrust of the international Secretariat of the CCC commenting KIKs’ activities.
“Initial payments can at a later date be deducted from the total amounts due.”
It seems that the moment though KIK is trying to pay off the terrible deaths of 318 workers who were producing their jeans with a cheap offer.
They can easily afford to pay much more: 1 million US$ corresponds to less than 0,05 % of their annual sales.

KIK has repeatedly stated publicly that the cause of the fire needs to be investigated. But up to date the company itself has done little to clarify its role, or to contribute to a full public investigation.

The CCC urges KIK yet again for more transparency, by fully declaring the history and nature of its relationship with AliEnterprises, by disclosing all of the audits undertaken by UL Responsible Sourcing (on behalf of KIK) and by providing the names  all other buyers producing clothes at Ali Enterprises.

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20121031

* Baldia fire tribunal report ready, to be made public once CM decides:


This file photo shows the burnt items inside Ali Enterprises, the factory which caught fire on September 11 and killed 259 workers. The tribunal formed by the Sindh government was given a week to ascertain the cause of the fire. It started proceedings on September 17 and wrapped up work within 12 days.

The inquiry tribunal into the Baldia garment factory fire in which 259 worker perished has concluded but can only be made public once the chief minister takes it up.

“We have communicated to the chief minister that the tribunal has done its job,” its head, Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Ali, told The Express Tribune. “We are waiting [to hear] whether the findings of the report will be unveiled by the CM himself or us.”
Waqar Mehdi, the special assistant to the CM, who deals with the press, said that the tribunal was given one week to submit its report, but it took more time. Then the CM left for the US before Eid. They would unveil it soon, he said.

A day after the fire at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Baldia town, the Sindh government formed the tribunal headed by Justice Alvi on September 12. They were given a week to unearth the cause of the fire. It started proceedings on September 17 and wrapped up work within 12 days.
One and a half months have passed since it has been ready, but it has yet to be submitted to the chief minister.

Justice Alvi has reportedly approached CM House but always returned with a message that the CM will inform him of a convenient time to submit the findings.
The tribunal recorded the statements of more than 40 people including factory owners, police, workers (who survived the inferno), forensic experts, the fire brigade, labour and civil defence officials. The trade union leaders and medico legal officers who had conducted the autopsies also testified. read more.

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20121101

* Italy-based firm under fire for Karachi factory disaster :

Italy-based company RINA had issued a SA8000 certificate to Ali Enterprises just three weeks before the fire broke out on September 11, 2012. SA8000 is a compliance certification granted after an audit of a company’s policies, procedures and documentation, to ensure a safe workplace. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

The devastating inferno at a garment factory in Baldia Town, which claimed the lives of over 250 workers, raises some pressing concerns over the credibility of international safety certifications granted to local companies.

Italy-based company RINA had issued a SA8000 certificate to Ali Enterprises just three weeks before the fire broke out on September 11, 2012. SA8000 is a compliance certification granted after an audit of a company’s policies, procedures and documentation, to ensure a safe workplace.

“We have been continuously voicing concerns about local factories not following the labour laws of Pakistan completely,” Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) Executive Director Karamat Ali told The Express Tribune.
He added the practice of acquiring such certifications was a good one, but did not really reflect the working conditions of these factories.
“If Ali Enterprises was following basic safety standards, the fire would not have resulted in the loss of precious lives.” read more.

* Karachi factories safety standards appalling:

In September, 289 people died in a fire at a garment factory in Pakistan’s commercial capital Karachi.

The tragedy was one of the worst industrial accidents in the country’s history. Investigators say the high death-toll is most likely because emergency exit doors in the five-storey building were locked and fire extinguishers were either non-existent or not working at the time of the blaze.

The father and son owners of Ali Enterprises, which produced clothing for international retailers, are currently in a provincial prison awaiting formal charges, which could include murder.

Shortly after the fire, government and business leaders called the tragedy a “wake-up call” and promised better industry oversight and improved safety for workers. That’s when Al Jazeera began investigating whether conditions were actually getting better.

Over a period of several weeks, we secretly visited six garment factories, often gaining access with the help of employees worried for their safety every time they went to work.
What we discovered was unsettling: none of the six factories had fire safety plans and very few had operational fire safety tools like extinguishers or water sprinklers.

The conditions at Shadman Electronic Industries, which makes clothes for international companies in addition to electronics, were the most distressing.
Mobile phone video – secretly shot by an employee – showed emergency exit doors filled in with cement bricks, fire extinguishers missing throughout and exposed electrical wiring close to workspaces.
We took our findings to Kashif Khan, the owner and operator of Shadman Electronic Industries. read more.

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20121102

* Karachi factory fire: Court orders officer to submit charge sheet in 14 days:

A local court of Karachi ordered the investigation officer on Friday to submit final charge sheet pertaining to the Karachi factory fire case, DawnNews reported.

Judicial Magistrate of Karachi’s western district showed displeasure over non submission of the charge sheet by the investigation officer. The magistrate granted 14-day deadline to the officer to submit the final charge sheet.

The owners of the garment factory Ali Enterprises, where a fire killed at least 258 people, pleaded that they were facing financial problems because their accounts were frozen by the authorities.
Police in Karachi had registered a murder case against the owners of the factory on Sept 13. read more.

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20121103

* Safety lax in Pakistan’s textile industry:

Exclusive Al Jazeera investigation into textile factories exposes poor safety conditions within industry.

Recent fatalities of more than 300 people at Pakistan garment factories, many which are producers for well-known international brands, has cast a spotlight on lax labour laws in the country’s garment sector.

A factory fire which killed 289 people on September 12 was followed by another fatal fire at an illegal shoe factory in Lahore.
In a weeks long investigation, Al Jazeera secretly visited six other garment factories represented by various associations and found that none of them had adequate safety measures in place.

Al Jazeera found that at one factory the conditions were so dire that emergency exit doors were blocked with cement bricks and that fire extinguishers were either missing or not being used.
Workspaces in the factory, owned by Shadman Electronic Industries, were also surrounded by exposed electrical wiring.

But, in an exclusive interview, the owner, Kashif Khan, told Al Jazeera that he was aware of the lack of safety at his factory but that he was now committed to improving its safety standards. read more & see VIDEO.

* The Baldia Town factory fire was not pre-meditated murder! :


Their basic visitation rights, being the owners, were stripped away when their factory was sealed, not allowing them to visit their own factory. PHOTO: REUTERS

Is it a crime that someone in Pakistan generates Rs2 billion in annual revenues? If this said person pays taxes worth Rs20 million per year, why is he implicated under section 302, which is premeditated murder, if his factory faces an accident?

Is it fair that a person providing direct employment to 1,200 workers, translating into 1,200 families, whose factory suffers from an unanticipated fire, is sent to jail along with his gatekeeper, accountant and senior staff? Who benefits from the fact that the owners are in jail today? And what happens to the 900 workers who are depending on finances from the owner to support their families?

The owners, who are well educated engineers and doctors, have lost their own source of livelihood with this disastrous fire, along with assets worth millions that may take them the rest of their lives to rebuild and regenerate. Yet, they have been labelled criminals under a section of law that claims the accident was evidence for premeditated murder? read more.

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20121104

* Defence wants owners to be freed as police ask for 4th extension to complete probe:

 The police looking into the Baldia factory fire have asked for a fourth extension, eliciting a frustrated response from the defense.

“Why did the police arrest my clients if they did not have sufficient evidence against them?” asked Amir Raza Naqvi, who is representing the owners of Ali Enterprises. “Instead of making a case before the arrests, police are now scrambling to build one.”

On September 11, Karachi’s worst industrial fire struck, killing at least 289 workers. The owners of Ali Enterprises Arshad and Shahid Bhaila were arrested. By October 4, the police had drawn up a list of interim charge sheet. But they repeatedly asked for more time to investigate before presenting to the judge a final charge sheet.
Naqvi pointed out that the police could take as much time as they need to investigate but his clients should not be kept behind bars during that time. “I fail to understand why they have been arrested – there is no evidence against my clients and they should be released right now.”

Pointing at the investigation officer, Naqvi said, “They have nothing which can justify the arrest.” If this is the police’s way of carrying out an investigation, said the counsel, then residents of the area and others should also be behind bars.
“My clients are from an educated family and are tax payers of this country – they should be transferred to a jail with better facilities.” Naqvi also requested the court to unfreeze his clients’ accounts and submitted requests to unseal a warehouse located near the factory to access factory records.  read more.

* Baldia fire: DNA reports of 30 missing workers still awaited:

Families of more than two dozen victims of the Baldia Town factory fire, whose bodies charred beyond recognition, are still waiting for the DNA reports of their loved ones from a laboratory in Islamabad, where samples had been sent some 40 days ago.

Police investigators are also feeling helpless as they see no sign of early completion of the process.
Officials said that heirs of more than 40 workers missing since the Baldia Town factory fire incident had submitted blood samples after a few days of the incident and the police sent the samples to a laboratory for matching these with the DNA samples obtained from the charred bodies found from the haunted industrial unit.

“Since then we have received results of only 14 samples from the forensic laboratory in Islamabad,” said Investigation Officer Sub-Inspector Jehanzaib of the Site-B police station. “Some 30 bodies are still lying at the Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth. We have sent a number of reminders to the laboratory but we are not aware of the exact reasons behind the delay.” read more.

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20121106

* Baldia factory fire: Govt given seven days to complete DNA testing:

Sindh High Court has directed the provincial government to complete within a week the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) matching process to identify remaining victims of the county’s worst industrial disaster.

The court has also directed the Sindh Labor Department to conduct a complete survey within one month of all the industrial establishments running in Karachi to identify how many of them have proper safety arrangements made for the workers safety.

In addition, the court issued notices of contempt to the owners of the ill-fated Ali Enterprises garments factory – Abdul Aziz Bhailla, Arshad Bhailla and Shahid Bhailla – for not providing details of their moveable and immoveable assets to the court despite orders. read more.

* Owners seek access to bank account, possession of factory:

The owners of Ali Enterprises, a Baldia Town garments factory where a Category 3 fire had killed at least 259 people on September 11, have prayed to court to allow them access to their bank account and possession of the factory and its warehouse.

Through their plea on Monday, the owners desired to deploy their own security at the factory and said that it would be fair to allow them possession of the factory to that extent.
Judicial Magistrate (West-II) Sohail Ahmed Mashori noted that the police department had not filed any comments on the plea, and fixed November 12 to decide the matter.
The owners, Shahid Bhaila, Arshad Bhaila and Abdul Aziz Bhaila, and factory manager Mansoor Idress, along with some other employees of the factory, are being tried in the factory fire case. One of the accused, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, is on bail, while the others are in judicial custody. read more.

* SHC seeks report on safety rules in industrial units:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed the Ministry of Labour and Industries and other departments concerned on Monday to conduct a survey of all industrial units and labour establishments in Karachi and submit a report on the implementation of fire and safety provisions.

The court was hearing identical petitions seeking a judicial inquiry into the Baldia Town factory fire that killed 259 people on September 11.

The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) and others filed the petitions requesting the court to constitute a judicial commission which may fix responsibility on persons responsible of the incident and suggest monetary compensation for the legal heirs of the victims.

They also sought an order restraining the inquiry commission constituted by the provincial government as well as against the owners of the factory, Ali Enterprises, from the disposal of the factory or creating any third party interest till the final adjudication of the petitions. read more.

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20121107

* Monument to Baldia factory fire victims to be built in SITE:

The Workers Rights Movement (WRM) has decided to build a monument to more than 250 workers who died in a fire at a Baldia Town garments factory on September 11.

The WRM has decided to make paintings and statutes of the victims at the monument to be built in the SITE area. Artists associated with fine art departments of universities and colleges will be requested to make these paintings and statutes.
These decisions were taken during a WRM meeting at the PMA House on Tuesday.

To achieve these targets, the meeting decided to launch a fund-raising campaign in which every factory worker will be requested to contribute their one-day salary. A ‘Jholi Phelao’ campaign will be part of the effort.
The WRM was formed after the fire incident in Ali Enterprises in which 259 labourers had lost their lives and several others suffered serious injuries, prompting calls for better safety measures in all industrial units. read more.

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20121109

* Information cells set up to handle complaints from families of victims:

This file photo shows the extent of damage that was caused to the factory by the fire. It’s been over two months yet there is still no official record of how many people were present when the fire broke out.
Filling a vacuum left by the government and law enforcement agencies, labour rights organisations have now set up information points for victims of the Baldia factory fire incident.Despite the passage of almost two months, no official record exists of the number of people who worked at the factory and how many of them were present when the fire broke out. The information cells would perhaps help nearly 70 families, who are awaiting the dreaded confirmation that their loved ones died in the fire.“We believe that dozens of workers are still missing because their bodies have not been recovered, or [probably] melted due to the high temperature,” said Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) at a press conference on Thursday.A total of 259 people lost their lives in the country’s worst industrial disaster on September 11. Investigating officer Jahanzaib Khan had earlier told The Express Tribune that the actual death toll might be higher, as officials had not been allowed to visit the factory’s administration block, which survived the fire. Police have received over 100 complaints about people gone missing in the factory fire. Ali said that 61 workers were still missing, while Edhi morgue was awaiting DNA test results for 27 unidentified bodies. read more.

* Inspection of garments, chemical industries demanded:

Representative organisations of trade unions and labour rights organisations on Thursday urged the government to immediately start the health and safety inspections of all chemical and garments factories in Pakistan through provincial labour departments.

Addressing a joint press conference, labour leaders including, Karamat Ali (Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research), Noor Muhammad (Port Workers Federation), Muhammad Jafar Khan (Muttahida Labour Federation) and Nasir Mansoor (National Trade Union Federation) pointed out that the government through Commerce Ministry has provided millions of rupees funds to many garments exporting factories for seeking SA-8000 certification through international organisations.

This certification is being considered a substitute of the inspection and audit by labour departments. The official inspection is actually banned in Sindh and Punjab on orders of chief ministers for many years, they said.

They said that the Italian company RINA, which had issued Social Audit certificate to Ali Enterprises as well as other certification companies, has also issued similar SA-8000 certificates to over 100 exporting companies in Pakistan.

They demanded that the government start audit and inspection of all these companies first to ascertain health and safety facilities available in these industries. Under the Factories Act 1934, labour departments need to conduct inspection of all the industries to ensure availability of all conducive facilities in these establishments.
read more.

* Workers want industries inspection resumed:

Workers’ representatives have demanded that health and safety-related inspections of industries, which have been abandoned for the past many years, be resumed immediately to prevent Baldia-like industrial tragedies in future.

Speaking at a press conference at the press club on Thursday, the representatives of various labour and civil society organisations demanded that the labour department conduct inspections of garment-exporting companies, which had sought social audit certifications from the international inspections companies.

Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) said the commerce ministry had provided millions of rupees to many garment-exporting factories for seeking SA-8000 certification through international organisations. “This certification is being considered as a substitute for the inspection and audit by the labour department,” he said.

He said that some international organisations working for the rights of workers such as Clean Clothes Campaign were also forcing international buyers to fulfil their responsibility and compensate the workers as some of international buyers did in countries like Bangladesh and Turkey. The Clean Clothes Campaign with labour rights organisations of Pakistan had identified a major buyer that was purchasing garments from Ali Enterprises and that buyer was being persuaded to fulfil its responsibility. While actual responsibility was on the owners of the Ali Enterprises, the international buyers also had some obligations to fulfil, he added. read more.

* Labour bodies demand audits, inspections of factories:

Representative organisations of trade unions and labour rigahts organisations on Thursday urged the government to immediately start the health and safety inspections of all chemical and garments factories in Pakistan through the provincial labour departments.

They stressed that the exercise should focus on garments-exporting factories which exported their goods and had sought social audit certifications from international inspection companies.

Addressing a joint press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday, the labour leaders, including Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Noor Mohammad of the Port Workers Federation, Mohammad Jafar Khan of the Muttahida Labour Federation, and Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation, pointed out that the government of Pakistan through the commerce ministry had provided millions of rupees’ funds to many garments-exporting factories for seeking SA-8000 certification through international organisations. read more.


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20121110

* More than 100 families yet to receive compensation:

The families of around 185 victims of a Baldia garments factory fire have received monetary compensation, and the rest numbering more than 100 are still waiting to be paid, according to a labour leader.

The government is yet to release a list of families which have been paid compensation for the loss of their loved ones in the September 11 blaze. Most victims were the sole breadwinner for their families.
Two months have passed but the exact number of labourers who lost their lives in the Category III blaze is yet to be determined. The government has put the death toll as 259, whereas some labour organisations claim the figure is up to 300.

The general secretary of the Garments Hosiery Labour Association, Nawab Ali, said on Friday that around 185 affected families had been compensated so far. However, he said efforts were being made to get a list to ascertain the exact number of families that had received compensation.
Ali said there were several families which took away the bodies of their beloved ones from the factory, Ali Enterprises, without fulfilling legal requirements, and there were some families which buried the deceased but did not have the burial record issued by the KMC. read more.

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20121114

* Factory fire case: Court orders registration of factories across Sindh:

This photo, taken on September 11, shows a man looking into the stitching room on the third floor of the factory. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/FILE

The Sindh government has been ordered to inspect all factories across the province to see if safety of workers is ensured or not and get all unregistered industrial units registered within 20 days.

The Sindh High Court was on Tuesday hearing a petition seeking judicial inquiry into the country’s worst industrial disaster, in which more than 250 workers were burnt alive at a garment factory In Baldia Town on September 11.

The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan among others non-governmental organisations had taken to court the factory owners – Abdul Aziz Bhailla and his two sons Arshad and Shahid – on charges of murder and criminal negligence.

The court was requested to constitute a judicial commission to fix the responsibility of the factory fire and suggest monetary compensations for the victims’ heirs. In another miscellaneous application, the petitioners appealed to the court to ensure compliance of its earlier order regarding safety of factory workers under labour laws. On November 6, the high court had directed the labour, industries and other departments to survey all industrial units in Karachi and submit their report on fire and safety measures in place at the factories. read more.

* SHC seeks reports on DNA tests, compensation money:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed authorities to furnish progress reports on DNA tests of unidentifiable Baldia factory fire victims and disbursement of compensation cheques among families of the deceased, Express News reported on Tuesday.

The country’s worst fire incident had claimed the lives of over 250 people in September. Many workers died of suffocation, others still were burnt alive at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Baldia town, which made ready-to-wear clothing for Western export.

The SHC had earlier given the provincial government a week to complete the DNA matching process to identify the remaining victims so that their bodies can be handed over to their families.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the court was informed that the ill-fated factory was not registered.
The court ordered registration of all the unregistered factories across the province and also sought a detailed report on them.
The hearing was adjourned till December 3. to read.

* Ali Enterprises not registered, SHC told:

Ali Enterprises, the ill-fated garments factory in Baldia Town where a fire killed at least 259 people on September 11, was not registered with the Directorate of Labour as its owners did not submit a notice of occupation under the labour laws, the Sindh High Court (SHC) was informed on Tuesday.

The court was hearing identical petitions seeking a judicial inquiry into the fire incident.
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and others have filed petitions for the constitution of a judicial commission to fix responsibility on persons responsible for the incident and suggest monetary compensation for the legal heirs of the victims.

They also sought an order restraining the inquiry commission constituted by the provincial government as well as the owners of the factory from the disposal of the factory or creating any third party interest till final adjudication of the petitions.
More than 300 workers were in the industrial unit when the fire broke out and raged for 15 hours, trapping employees in the building and killing most of them.

The labour secretary said in his comments before the court that the factory was not registered under Section 9 of the Factory Act and Section 3 of Factory Rules.
read more.

* IO gets one more day to submit final charge sheet:

A judge on Tuesday granted the investigation officer (IO) one more day to submit the final charge sheet in the Baldia garments factory fire case.

A week back IO Jahanzeb had been told to present the final charge sheet against the accused, including the three owners of Ali Enterprises, the ill-fated factory where a Category III blaze claimed the lives of at least 259 labourers on September 11.
When the IO appeared before Magistrate (West-II) Sohail Ahmed Mashori on Tuesday, he sought a few more hours to finalise the charge sheet. However, the court granted him 24 hours and adjourned the hearing.

Two owners of the factory, Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila, along with manager Mansoor Idress and other accused in the case, were brought from the prison for the framing of the charges. Another owner, Aziz Bhaila, who has been on bail on health grounds, was also present in the courtroom.

The investigation officer had submitted an interim charge sheet at a previous hearing. However, the judge had expressed his dissatisfaction with the case facts mentioned in the interim charge sheet, saying that it lacked information on the role of the factory owners and civic agencies, including civil defence, fire brigade and the Karachi Building Control Authority. read more.

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20121115

* Factory fire tribunal: ‘Negligence’ lands officials in hot water:

Non-bailable arrest warrants have been issued against four government officials, who will now be treated as suspects in the Baldia factory fire, for negligence on their part.

A district and sessions court passed the orders on Wednesday to include labour director, Zahid Qurban Shaikh, SITE managing director, Rashid Ahmed Solangi, Civil Defence additional controller, Ghulam Akbar, and Karachi Region-II electric inspector, Amjad Ali, in the inquiry.
The second judicial magistrate West, Sohail Ahmed Mashori, also issued warrants against them as their negligence played a vital part in the worst industrial disaster in the country that claimed the lives of over 250 factory workers.

The case investigating officer, Jahanzaib Khan, had earlier submitted the final charge-sheet implicating only the factory owners. No intentional negligence or failure was established on part of the government departments, SITE Limited, labour department, electric inspector, fire department, civil defence and their officials. The other “accused” departments mentioned in the FIR were excluded as “institutions could not be charged since they were not persons and departmental action could be taken against them.”

In his order, the judge stated that police had sought time on the grounds that they had to fix responsibility of the institutions and in that sense, the investigating officer’s contention was not lawful. read more.

* Court orders restoration of owners’ frozen accounts:

A Karachi court, hearing the case pertaining to the Baldia Town factory fire, that killed 250 workers, ordered restoration of the factory owners’ accounts that had been frozen earlier, Express News reported on Wednesday.

The court also rejected police reports that portrayed government bodies as innocent.
The country’s worst fire incident had claimed the lives of over 250 people in September. Many workers died of suffocation, others still were burnt alive at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Baldia town, which made ready-to-wear clothing for Western export.

Earlier, the Sindh High Court (SHC) had directed authorities to furnish progress reports on DNA tests of unidentifiable factory fire victims and the disbursement of compensation cheques among families of the deceased.
The Sindh government was also ordered to inspect all factories across the province to see if safety of workers is ensured or not and get all unregistered industrial units registered within 20 days. to read.

* Non-bailable warrants issued against four officials:

A judge on Wednesday issued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of four officials of the labour department and civic agencies for showing negligence and not playing a responsible role in dealing with the Baldia garments factory fire incident.

Judicial Magistrate (West-II) Sohail Ahmed Mashori observed that the final charge sheet submitted by the investigation officer had showed certain officials of the labour department and other civic agencies had played a negative role.
The judge then ordered police to make arrests and produce the accused in the court on November 27.

The officials against whom the non-bailable warrants have been issued are Labour Director Zahid Qurban Sheikh, Managing Director SITE Rasheed Ahmed Solangi, Additional Controller Civil Defence Ghulam Akbar and Chief Electrical Inspector Amjad Ali.

The final charge sheet said factory owners Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila, sons of another accused Abul Aziz Bhaila, remained unmoved despite the eruption of the fire in Ali Enterprises, the ill-fated factory where at least 259 labourers were killed on September 11. It said the two had taken no steps for the security and safety of the workers. read more.

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20121117

* Factory fire victims’ heirs to get compensation:

The Sindh government would provide financial assistance to rehabilitate each family of the Baldia factory fire victims through Workers Welfare Fund.Labour Department Provincial Secretary Arif Elahi made the statement while addressing a workshop held for the training of Baldia Town factory victims’ families here on Friday.

The Training programme was jointly arranged by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Pakistan Readymade Garments Technical Training Institute.
The Provincial Secretary said that investigation into tragic incident had been completed and would b submitted to the Chief Minister soon. He said tribunal, led by retired judge Zahid Qurban Alvi, had completed its report, while government will implement the findings, in which whoever was found responsible for the incident would be punished.

He said that the rehabilitation of the victims’ families was the government’s top priority and concrete steps would be taken to avoid such tragedies in future.
The families of the victims would also be provided medical facility through SESSI and pension would be extended through EOBI, Labour Secretary added.
He informed that the PRGMEA will arrange the registration of the workers of their members units so that Labour Department could provide them medical and pension facilities besides allotting them flats in labour colonies.

He assured that a committee, comprising of ILO, PRGMEA, PRGTTI and Labour Department, will oversee the rehabilitation as well as job placement of the victims’ families.
Meanwhile, Director ILO, Francesco D Ovidio while addressing the gathering said that ILO was concerned over the most tragic incident and was keen to rehabilitate the victims’ families.
He said The ILO Office Islamabad was working closely with the Labour Department of Sindh for the rehabilitation and employment of victims and their families.
He said training was aimed to train the 250 victims’ families with current skills and education through a Rapid Needs Analysis.

On this occasion, the Chairman PRGMEA Sajid Saleem Minhas emphasized to gear up efforts to rehabilitate the families of factory fire’s victims adding that PRGMEA members had already expressed their willingness to provide jobs to the victims’ families after completion of their training. to read.

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20121118

* ‘Baldia bereaved to be given Rs500,000 per family’:

The victims of the Baldia Town factory inferno will be given financial assistance of Rs500,000 per family from the Workers’ Welfare Fund (WWF) by the Sindh labour department, announced Secretary Labour Arif Elahi on Friday.

Speaking as the chief guest at a launching ceremony of training course for families of Baldia Town victims, he said investigation of the tragic incident was complete and to be submitted to the high-ups soon.

Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) has commenced the training course in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO). Pakistan Readymade Garments Technical Training Institute (PRGTTI) is tasked to conduct the course.
He further said the government’s strategy was to punish those who were responsible for the incident, rehabilitate the affected families, and devise a plan to prevent such mishaps in future.

The Sindh Employees Social Security Institution (SESSI) will provide affected families with medical facility and the Employees Old-age Benefits Institution (EOBI) will give pensions to bereaved families.
The secretary asked the PRGMEA Chairman Sajid Saleem Minhas to arrange the registration of the workers of their member units so that labour department could provide them with medical facilities besides allotting them flats in labour colonies.
read more.

* Workers march in protest:

The members of the Workers Rights Movement (WRM) marched from Regal Chowk to the Karachi Press Club on Friday to condemn the indifference of the government and private sector towards labour rights.

The organisation was formed by labour unions after a fire at Ali Enterprises in Baldia Town that claimed 259 lives on September 11. Nasir Mansoor, a leader of the National Trade Union Federation, complained that industrialists continue to hold their employees in low esteem.
The government does not inspect the factories, which can partly explain the harsh working environment faced by labourers, he added. to read.

* Labour activists demand inspection of factories:

Labour activists on Friday vowed to continue their struggle for the rights of the workers until the government fulfills the registration of factories and restore the procedure of labour inspection in the industries across the country as per the law.

At a protest rally taken out in solidarity with the workers killed in the Baldia factory fire, the activists under the umbrella Workers Rights Movement (WRM), also decided not to sit quiet until the contract system from the industrial sector is eliminated, which they termed as ‘a curse for the laborers’.

The rally began which began at Regal Chowk ended at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) was lead by Usman Baloch, Nasir Mansoor, Jafar Khan, Gul Rahman and others. A large numbers of laborers of different industrial zones, students, political workers, women and human rights associations participated in the protest.

The speakers urged the government to accept the due demands of the familes of Baldia factory fire which they have been making since the day the tragedy struck.
The speakers while addressing the participants of the rally said that sacrifices of the workers who were burnt alive would pave way for the revolution.

They said the greed of capitalists to squeeze large profits and non-implementation of labour laws on industrial sector created this deadly incident of Ali Enterprises in which around 300 labourers were burnt alive.
They said hundreds of workers got serious injuries and thousands of them have been rendered jobless.

They said the state and the government’s departments associated with labour issues have become puppets in the hands of mill owners and the phenomenon has turned the workplaces of labourers into their deathtraps.
The labourers’ representatives said that workers of factories at large are deprived of appointment letters. They said these workers in absence of appointment letters have no access to the rights which they duly deserve under the constitution. read more.

* Three officials granted pre-arrest bail:

A fire truck is being used to remove bodies from the Ali Enterpises factory which caught fire on September 11. PHOTO: FILE

As the scope of investigation of the country’s worst industrial disaster widens to include government quarters, three senior officers facing arrest have obtained protective bail before the Sindh High Court could issue orders.

Initially, police had only booked the factory owners – Abdul Aziz Bhailla and his two sons, Arshad and Shahid – for the deadly blaze at Ali Enterprises garment factory in Baldia Town that claimed the lives of over 250 workers on September 11. The case was registered under murder and negligence charges.

On November 14, the district and sessions court hearing the case had found four government officials – Labour director Zahid Qurban Shaikh, SITE managing director Rashid Ahmed Solangi, Civil Defence additional controller Ghulam Akbar and Karachi Region-II electric inspector Amjad Ali Mahesar – guilty of criminal negligence in the case. Subsequently, non-bailable arrest warrants were issued for their arrest.

To avoid arrest, Zahid Qurban Shaikh, Rashid Ahmed Solangi and Amjad Ali Mahser went to the Sindh High Court for the grant of protective bail before arrest.
On Saturday, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi granted protective bail before arrest to Zahid Qurban Shaikh against a surety of Rs100,000 and directed him to surrender before the trial court within 10 days to join the investigation. read more.

* SITE MD granted pre-arrest bail in factory fire case:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday granted protective pre-arrest bail to the MD SITE and an electric inspector in the Baldia garments factory fire case.

MD SITE Rasheed Solangi and electric inspector Amjad have been included among other accused in the fresh charge sheet submitted by the investigation officer before the trial court.

The applicant’s counsel, Amir Mansoob Qureshi and Junaid Alam Rizvi, said the applicants wanted to surrender to the trial court and expressed apprehension of their arrest during appearance before the court.
A single bench, headed by Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, after the preliminary hearing, granted protective bail to the applicants against a surety of Rs100,000 with the direction to appear before the trial court. More than 300 workers were present in the factory, Ali Enterprises, when a fire broke out and engulfed the entire building, resulting in the death of over 250 labourers.

Unlawful detention
The SHC issued notices to the federal and provincial governments to file comments on a petition against the alleged unlawful detention of a man by the Rangers.
A petitioner, Sher Rukh Syed, submitted that his son Shahid Hussain went to offer Isha prayers at a nearby mosque in the Peerabad area in September but did not return. He said that he later came to know that his son was arrested by the Rangers and that he would be released after the interrogation, but despite the lapse of three weeks he was not released and his whereabouts were still unknown. read more.

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20121120

* Many families of Baldia victims yet to be compensated:

Although two months have passed since the devastating fire at a factory in the Baldia Town area claimed the lives of nearly 300 people, only 165 families of the victims were compensated by the authorities for their tragic loss, stated a report of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) which was shared exclusively with The News. It added that a number of these heirs were unaware of the procedure to follow to get the compensation.

It said that the relevant authorities could not even produce a DNA report for the 61 families whose loved ones’ bodies were yet to be identified. The trade union revealed that there were only 27 bodies in the mortuary, whereas 61 families had yet to get the corpses of their relatives. Identifying and locating the bodies was not only important to the families for burial purposes, but also to get the compensation promised by the federal and provincial governments.

This report was complied by Zohra Akbar Khan, the education research secretary of NTUF, in collaboration with some other trade union activists of the federation. The prime minister announced Rs400,000 as compensation for the families, while the Sindh chief minister declared that around Rs300,000 would be paid to the legal heirs of those who perished. In addition, prosperous businessman Malik Riaz also announced Rs200,000 for the families.

Meanwhile, a committee had also been formed to oversee the compensation; however, not a single trade union or federation activist was included and neither were the people affected by the fire.

The News also attempted to get a list of the compensated families, but it was yet to be made public. Many families, who were yet to receive the bodies of their relatives, had also not been compensated. read more.

* Factory gates were closed on the day of fire, witnesses tell court:

Two witnesses to the Baldia Town factory fire of last week told court on Tuesday that the entry and exist gates of the ill-fated factory were closed on the day the incident occurred.

The witnesses, both employees of the garment factory, Ali Enterprises, recorded their statements before Judicial Magistrate (West-II) Sohail Ahmed Mashori under Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code.
The unprecedented industrial tragedy, which saw 260 labourers lost to the inferno on September 11, prompted calls for an overhaul of poor safety standards. A case was registered against the owners by the SITE-B police.

A machine operator of the 3,000-square-yard factory, Umer, and accountant Khurram Iqbal said in their statements that the owners were present at the factory when the Category 3 broke out. read more.

* Garment factory blaze : SHC issues notice to prosecutor general:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday issued a notice to the Prosecutor General Sindh in a petition seeking bail of owners of a garment factory of Karachi facing murder charges for death of more than 250 people in the fire at the factory.

The petitioners, Arshad Abdul Aziz and Shahid Abdul Aziz, submitted that there was clear contradiction in the story of the prosecution and evidence on the record.

They submitted that district police had failed to collect and preserve the relevant evidence, which was their professional duty to collect initial information for the investigation and instead they waited for the day to register FIR and incorporated the facts in a distorted manner. It was submitted that version recorded in the FIR was motivated. Subsequently every effort was made only to strengthen the version of FIR instead bringing truth to the record. It was submitted that truth was otherwise what was mentioned in the FIR and police tried to withhold each evidence favouring the factory owners. read more.

* Owners told to file asset details by Nov 26:

The owners of the fateful Ali Enterprises garment factory have been given until November 26 to submit complete details of their property in court.

The Sindh High Court division bench headed by Justice Maqbool Baqir issued this directive on Monday on an application filed on behalf of different non-governmental organisations.

The assets of the factory owners – Abdul Aziz Bhailla and his two sons Arshad and Shahid – were frozen following the tragic industrial blaze that claimed the lives of over 250 workers on September 11. Recently, the owners managed to obtain an order from a court through which they were allowed to use up to 20% of their assets.

However, they have still not filed the information of their assets despite high court orders issued on September 25. The petitioners’ lawyer, Faisal Siddiqui, appealed to the court to call the details of properties owned by the Bhaila family. read more.

* SHC tells owners to submit assets’ details in four days:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday directed the owners of Ali Enterprises, a garments factory in Baldia Town where a fire had killed over 250 people in September, to submit details of their properties and assets within four days.

The court was hearing identical petitions seeking a judicial inquiry into the fire incident of September 11.The petitioners, including the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education, pleaded with the SHC to constitute a judicial commission to fix responsibility on persons responsible for the incident and suggest monetary compensation the families of the victims.

They also sought the issuance of an order restraining the inquiry commission constituted by the provincial government and the owners from disposing of the factory or creating any third party interest till final adjudication of the petitions.

Filing a miscellaneous application, the petitioners’ counsel, Faisal Siddiqui, submitted that the factory owners had obtained a trial court’s order for unfreezing 20 percent of its assets and funds. read more.

 

map of Asia

20120923/24
* Fire put out at another factory
* Fire breaks out in garment factory
* Workers’ death in Karachi and Lahore: Condolence references and protest rallies by PTUDC
* Workers Rights Movement formed to help victims’ families
* PM distributes cheques among factory fire victims’ heirs
* Owners of gutted factory show distrust in probe committees
* When misery repeats itself, but not quite
* Social Accountability International: We are devastated by the Pakistan fire & determined to find answers

20120925
* Worker Rights Movement Formed, Launching Movement Against Factory Fire Culprits
* Action against owners, state functionaries demanded
* Baldia factory blaze survivor speaks of a forenoon fire
* Lazy fire brigade to blame for tragedy, say owners
* Our employees being harassed: Baldia Town factory owners

20120926
* Owners told to file assets list in court
* Lazy fire brigade to blame for tragedy, say owners
* Fire officer records his statement to the tribunal
* Fire dept fails to find cause of Baldia factory inferno
* Short circuit may have caused the fire, says fire brigade
* Baldia factory fire: Who is architect Qamar Uddin?

20120927
* Report on factory fire to be submitted tomorrow
* Tribunal probing Karachi factory fire will submit report by Sept 28

20120928
* Safety measures for workers being taken on emergency basis
* Toxic fumes caused the most deaths- Autopsy reports
* Tribunal suspects police of hiding report
* Architect’s licence was cancelled in 2001
* Post-fire incident: some suggestions

20120929
* A sign at today’s rally in Karachi
* Labour rules: 98% of factories have no trade unions, say rights activists

20120930
* Manager of Baldia factory remanded
* Fire station in SITE hasn’t had water in years over unpaid bills
* PRGMEA establishes support fund
* Spotlight on social compliance

20121001
* No factory check sans business community representative
* Faryal distributes cheques among relatives of victims
* Workers’ safety and rights issues

20121002
* 35 families of Karachi fire victims paid pensions
* Owners of Karachi fire factory granted bail till Oct 6
* Owners granted interim bail; six others remanded
* Contractor remanded in police custody
* ‘It’s the fire survivors that need attention now’

20121003
* No action: District govt turns blind eye to factories in residential areas
* With only 4 days to go, Adil’s wedding plans cut short

20121004
* After three weeks, families told to wait 15 more days
* 22 days later, some victims remain unidentified
* Deadly Pakistan Factory Fire Raises Questions Over Safety Inspections

20121005
* Baldia factory investigation: Gates were closed on orders of owners when fire started, say witnesses
* Watchmen remanded in police custody
* Police find no evidence of arson in factory fire case
* Police submit interim charge sheet
* Court dissatisfied with incomplete charge sheet
* A rally was organized in solidarity with the victims

2012107
* Court rejects Bhaila brothers’ interim bail, orders arrest
* Two of three Ali Enterprises owners sent to jail

20121009
* Workers’ Rights Movement in Pakistan Gains Momentum: Court Orders Arrest of Ali Enterprises Owners
* Cheque for families of victim of factory fire
* Baldia fire mystery deepens as 70 persons still missing
* Govt told to speed up victims’ identification
* SHC orders expediting DNA testing of bodies

20121010
* Witnesses forced to testify against accused, JM told
* Two witnesses testify factory doors were open
* Police accused of extorting statements against Baldia factory owners
* IO allowed to record two owners’ statements
* China donates Rs2m to victims’ heirs
* Businessmen warn opting full shutdown

20121011
* SHC calls for comments on Baldia fire tragedy
* JI will pay for orphans till Matric
* Mourning day
* Factory certification body fails to assist victims of Karachi factory fire

20121212
* Agonising wait ends as seven factory fire victims identified

20121014
* Health, safety for factory workers demanded

20121015
* Factory fire: misery of victims’ kin
* Workplace fires: ‘Prepare because you never think it could happen to you’

20121016
* Urge KIK to identify buyers and pay compensation to Pakistan fire victims
* Court to announce order on Baldia investigation today

20121017
* Failure to bring accused to court irks magistrate

20121018
* Court orders jailer to present factory owners

20121019
* Baldia fire case: Court allows police plea for custody
* Court remands owners into ‘dusk to dawn’ police custody
* Labourers’ body to protest tomorrow
* Baldia factory blaze: Forget the toll, it’s just about closure now

20121020
* Joint efforts urged to safeguard rights of workers

20121021
* SHC suspends owners’ remand into police custody

20121024
* Court extends deadline for final list of charges to Nov 2
* Discounter Offers $1,930 Per Victim in Factory Fire

20121025
* German firm to compensate Pakistan factory fire victims

20121030
* Textile discounter KIK makes cheap offer to victims of Pakistan garment
factory fire

20121031
* Baldia fire tribunal report ready, to be made public once CM decides

20121101
* Italy-based firm under fire for Karachi factory disaster
* Karachi factories safety standards appalling

20121102
* Karachi factory fire: Court orders officer to submit charge sheet in 14 days

20121103
* Safety lax in Pakistan’s textile industry
* The Baldia Town factory fire was not pre-meditated murder!

20121104
* Defence wants owners to be freed as police ask for 4th extension to complete probe
* Baldia fire: DNA reports of 30 missing workers still awaited

20121106
* Baldia factory fire: Govt given seven days to complete DNA testing
* Owners seek access to bank account, possession of factory
* SHC seeks report on safety rules in industrial units

20121107
* Monument to Baldia factory fire victims to be built in SITE

20121109
* Information cells set up to handle complaints from families of victims
* Inspection of garments, chemical industries demanded
* Workers want industries inspection resumed
* Labour bodies demand audits, inspections of factories

20121110
* More than 100 families yet to receive compensation

20121114
* Factory fire case: Court orders registration of factories across Sindh
* SHC seeks reports on DNA tests, compensation money
* Ali Enterprises not registered, SHC told
* IO gets one more day to submit final charge sheet

20121115
* Factory fire tribunal: ‘Negligence’ lands officials in hot water
* Court orders restoration of owners’ frozen accounts
* Non-bailable warrants issued against four officials

20121117
* Factory fire victims’ heirs to get compensation

20121118
* ‘Baldia bereaved to be given Rs500,000 per family’
* Workers march in protest
* Labour activists demand inspection of factories
* Three officials granted pre-arrest bail
* SITE MD granted pre-arrest bail in factory fire case

20121120
* Many families of Baldia victims yet to be compensated
* Factory gates were closed on the day of fire, witnesses tell court
* Garment factory blaze : SHC issues notice to prosecutor general
* Owners told to file asset details by Nov 26
* SHC tells owners to submit assets’ details in four days

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2