The BALDIA (& Lahore) Fire September 2012 –PART 3 20121120- 20150107

PAKISTAN

20121123

* Prgmea to start skill training programme:

Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, ILO and Sindh Labour Department have jointly launched a skill training programme with a view to empower factory fire affected families.

Addressing the launching ceremony, PRGMEA Chairman Sajid Saleem Minhas and Vice Chairman PRGTTI Sohail A Sheikh said that it is first step to help the families gather courage to pull their lives back and look forward to the future challenges.
They said body 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 labor colonies. read more.

* Judge refuses to hear Baldia factory owners’ bail plea:

A Sindh High Court (SHC) judge refused to hear the bail plea of the owners of the Baldia garment factory on Thursday.

Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, two of the three owners of the Ali Enterprises factory that caught fire in September and killed over 250 workers, had gone to court seeking bail. Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi declined to even hear their application for a post-arrest bail.

The police had booked them under charges of murder, mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage and attempt to murder.

In the bail application, their lawyer, Amir Raza Naqvi, had argued that the investigation was faulty and full of errors. Thus, the police implicated the factory owners to victimise them, he said. “The police have forced the witnesses to record their statements against the factory owners, who are already aggrieved as they lost their precious asset – their factory,” he said. read more.

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20121127

* Factory fire case Another accused granted bail:

A sessions court on Monday granted interim bail to an electrical inspector in the Baldia Town garment factory fire case.

Amjad Ali through his lawyer moved a pre-arrest bail application and additional district and sessions judge (west) Abdullah Channa granted him interim pre-arrest bail against the surety bond of Rs500,000 till Dec 1.

The police cited negligence of the SITE, labour, civil defence and other departments concerned as one of the reasons of the fire in an interim report, but did not name officials in the final charge-sheet.

However, a magistrate declared managing director of SITE Abdul Rasheed Solangi, director of the labour department Zahid Gulzar Sheikh, additional controller of civil defence Ghulam Akbar and electrical inspector Amjad Ali accused on Nov 14 for their alleged negligence in the case and issued their warrants for Nov 27. to read.

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20121128

* Officer given two days to justify guards’ arrest:

 A district and sessions court hearing the Baldia factory fire case has directed the investigating officer to bring witnesses and provide proof within two days justifying the arrest of two security guards of the factory.

The police had arrested two guards, Ali Muhammad and Fazal Mehmood, on their alleged involvement in the factory fire which claimed over 250 lives in September this year.
The guards’ lawyer, Muhammad Tamim Khan, urged the court to release the suspects on bail as the police have not produced any evidence against them since their arrest and kept them behind bars for no reason.

Putting off the hearing until November 29, the fifth additional district and sessions judge (West), Abdullah Channah, ordered the prosecutor and investigating officer, Jahanzaib Khan, to provide evidence against the suspects within two days.
read more.

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20121204

* Short circuit, all of Karachi to blame for tragedy, says tribunal:

An electrical short-circuit may have been the initial cause of the Baldia garments factory that claimed the lives of more than 250 people but the “entire system” is responsible for the cause of deaths.

This is the crux of the long-awaited report of the Baldia factory fire tribunal which has been submitted to chief minister and home department.

From the setting up of the factory and its drawing plan, from meeting safety standards and the architects who did not make emergency exits, everything counts in the disaster, the report says while criticising the owners for fitting in maximum number of machines into minimum space.  “Not only the owners flouted the rules, officials of civil defence, labour departments were also negligent,” it stated.

The tribunal, headed by Justice (retd) Zahid Kurban Alavi and Khalilur Rehman Shaikh, also refers to several incidents of fire that broke out earlier at the factory, saying all fires were caused by power short-circuits.

Ali Enterprises did not store highly flammable chemicals and the condition of the generators or boilers did not suggest the fire started from there. The tribunal found no evidence against the allegations that factory doors had been locked, wrote Justice Alavi. read more.

* Court questions ability of civic agencies to deal with emergencies:

In a suo motu hearing on Monday, the Sindh High Court (SHC) has questioned the ability of civic agencies in responding timely to emergencies.

Almost three months after the Baldia factory fire that left over 250 people dead, the death of Ovais Baig after he fell off the State Life building to avoid the fire – has intensified the debate whether or not our civic agencies can deal with mishaps.

The judges formally started hearing the suo motu case as to why the civic agencies failed to save the ill-fated young man even though he was dangling at the window for 15 minutes. The case has been tagged along two identical petitions seeking judicial inquiry of the Baldia factory tragedy. read more.

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20121205

* Tribunal recommends closing down police’s forensic department:

When the Sindh police’s forensic department cannot carry out modern scientific tests, it should be closed down, recommended the tribunal that investigated the Baldia factory fire in its inquiry report.

On September 11, the tragic incident at Ali Enterprises claimed the lives of more than 250 people. Later, the provincial government constituted a two-member tribunal to investigate the cause of fire.

The inquest was completed within 12 days with more than 40 people, including government officers, fire fighters, factory workers and doctors, recording their statements.

In their recommendations, Justices (retd) Zahid Kurban Alavi and Khalilur Rehman Shaikh have advised the Sindh government to shut the police forensic department, which has failed to serve its purpose to resolve crimes through scientific methods. From each floor of the ill-fated garments factory, forensic officials could only collect pieces of burnt wires and cloth that were handed over to police for further investigation, the former judges wondered.

“It is a sad reflection on the competency and efficiency of this [forensic] department,” the report says. In its findings, the panel has termed an electrical short-circuit as the most plausible cause behind the blaze. read more.

* Bail pleas to be decided on 7th in factory fire case:

The appellate court in the Baldia Town factory fire case will hear bail pleas of two accused, Fazal Ahmed and Ali Muhamad, on December 7.

The two watchmen of Ali Enterprises, the ill-fated garments factory where the Category 3 fire killed 259 labourers on September 11, moved the bail applications, protesting that they were under detention while they had no involvement in the fire incident.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Abdullah Channa announced on Tuesday he would conclude bail matters on December 7. to read.

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20121206

* Families try to prove that loved ones were lost in fire:

Syed Nazeef Shah believes his son is dead – for all he knows is that young Obaidullah was working at Ali Enterprises on September 11, 2012 when a raging fire killed more than 250 people at the factory.

But what he does not have is closure as his son’s body was never found and the DNA test reports came back without any answer. Without proof, he cannot get a death certificate issued as well. Obaidullah reportedly joined the factory two weeks before the fire broke out but when asked for documents that could verify his employment, his father hands over irrelevant papers such as a matriculation certificate instead of a company card.

The only verification Shah can offer is through his neighbours and other residents, such as the shopkeepers and the bus conductors, who he says can vouch that Obaidullah worked at the factory.

“I have visited leaders of three political parties as well as the deputy commissioner for compensation. All of them turned me back saying that I should bring the body first,” said Shah who lives in one of the impoverished colonies of Baldia Town. “We deserve compensation. But what am I suppose to do now?”

Families still waiting
Shah’s son is among the 61 people who, as claimed by their families, were working in the factory and are still missing, their remains apparently disintegrated and washed away from the premises. read more.

* KIK & The Karachi Garment factory Fire disaster :

Thursday 6 Dec. 2012 – 21.45h (loc.time) Panorama: A update about KIK and the Karachi fire. German Television: ARD – DasErste. (NDR-Panorama production von Christoph Lütgert)  (German spoken.)

LIVESTREAM

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20121207

* Workplace safety: Labour dept likely to launch action plan next month:

An announcement about various exit points in a local hotel in case of a fire or any an emergency set the tone for the main theme of a workshop that was being held at the hotel on the topic of “promoting workplace safety and health in Sindh” on Thursday.

Speaking at the workshop that included three parallel technical consultation sessions on the themes of “occupational safety and health”, “labour inspection” and “work injury insurance schemes”, Sindh labour department secretary Arif Elahi said: “Instead of blaming employers, inspectors, emergency services, etc, we thought of an action plan of first training ourselves to prevent tragedies such as the Baldia Town factory fire.”

He added: “The business people must understand that no one is out to harass them in the name of ‘inspection’. And we should also know what is keeping employers from taking certain necessary measures. Also the employees should not think that no one cares about them. The main objective is to create awareness of the problems of all the three stakeholders and understand them. So please let us just adopt an action plan as the lives of workers are also precious.” read more.

* Tod in der Fabrik: der Preis für billige Kleidung (& KIK):

* Death in the factory: the price of cheap clothing (& KIK):

There is not much that remains Rehana shows us a family photo with her four daughters. You have dreamed of a better life wanted to work hard for a future without poverty. Long shifts they sewed jeans for German textile markets. But then came the fire. On 11 September 2012, shortly before 19.00 clock, a fire broke out, which quickly seized all the factory premises.

The people wanted to flee, but they could not. Probably Rehanas daughters are in panic ran to the windows, emergency exits have been looking for. But the windows were barred, locked the doors, according to many workers apparently. Almost daily, new details shake us out of our sewing rooms in the Far East.

Spent factories, spies, lock the doors, sloppy fire. Certainly, the local firefighters have failed miserably. But it is above all the greed of Western corporations, the press apparently the prices and pass the pressure on suppliers. Efficient fire protection is often the last thing on the list of the owners.

(original text-german:Es ist nicht viel, was bleibt: Rehana zeigt uns ein Familienfoto mit ihren vier Töchtern. Sie haben von einem besseren Leben geträumt, wollten hart arbeiten für eine Zukunft ohne Armut. In langen Schichten nähten sie Jeanshosen für deutsche Textilmärkte. Doch dann kam das Feuer. Am 11. September 2012, kurz vor 19.00 Uhr, brach ein Brand aus, der schnell alle Fabrikräume ergriff.

Die Menschen wollten fliehen, doch sie konnten nicht. Wahrscheinlich sind auch Rehanas Töchter in Panik zu den Fenstern gerannt, haben die Notausgänge gesucht. Doch die Fenster waren vergittert, die Türen nach Angaben vieler Arbeiter offenbar verschlossen. Fast täglich erschüttern uns neue Details aus unseren Nähstuben in Fernost.

Abgebrannte Fabriken, Aufpasser, die die Türen verriegeln, schlampiger Brandschutz. Gewiss, auch die örtlichen Brandbekämpfer haben jämmerlich versagt. Doch es ist vor allem die Gier westlicher Konzerne, die offenbar die Preise drücken und den Druck an die Zulieferer weitergeben. Effizienter Brandschutz ist häufig das Letzte, was auf der Liste der Fabrikbesitzer steht.)

read en see more – video report german spoken.source here.

* Certified Safe, a Factory in Karachi Still Quickly Burned:

The century-old Central Jail here, a gritty repository of criminals, jihadists and sectarian killers, has a reputation for overcrowding and prisoner riots. But for Arshad and Shahid Bhaila, the industrialist brothers whose factory burned to the ground in September, killing at least 262 workers, there are some comforts.

As Category B prisoners, the Bhailas have a private room, a bathroom, a television and personally cooked meals. Those perks, to be sure, may prove only a short-lived solace once their trial begins next month and they face a possible death sentence on murder charges.

Yet their lawyer, in mounting a defense, is seeking to shelter the Bhailas behind a far greater source of comfort: an apparel industry certification system that gave their factory, Ali Enterprises, a clean bill of health just three weeks before the horrific blaze.

Despite survivors’ accounts of locked emergency exits and barred windows that prevented workers from leaping to safety, the Bhailas’ lawyer says their SA8000 certificate, issued under the auspices of Social Accountability International, a respected nonprofit organization based in New York, proves they were running a model business.

“This was a state-of-the-art factory that met international standards,” said the lawyer, Amer Raza Naqvi. “The SA8000 is accepted all over the world. They have very strict rules before issuing any certificate.” read more.

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20121208

* Hoping to prevent another Baldia-like tragedy, experts hash out recommendations:


“Factory owners should register their workers and should not treat them like machines,” PWF general secretary Zahoor Awan. PHOTO: FILE

Industrial accidents happen all over the world, but it amounts to a criminal act if the government turns a blind eye to such incidents. On the other hand, the Sindh government tackled the fallout from the Baldia Town factory fire tragedy in a prompt manner.

These views were expressed by Francesco d’Ovidio, country director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), as he was attending a consultation for formulating a plan of action to prevent industrial disasters in the future. The session was jointly organised by the ILO, the Sindh Labour Department, Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP) and the Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF) on Thursday.

PWF general secretary Zahoor Awan stressed on the importance of factory owners properly registering their workers, and added that they should “not treat workers like machines”. Unregistered workers at the ill-fated Ali Enterprises in Baldia Town had created a host of problems for the government and nongovernmental organisations, as they were not sure how many workers were present in the factory when the file broke out. The participants also observed that when contracts are awarded to third parties, then the problem of unregistered workers rises.

While quoting a media report, Sindh labour secretary Arif Elahi said that the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) had issued 38,000 power connections to industrial units in the city, when the number of registered factories in Karachi is closer to 5,000. “We have 7,000 registered factories in the entire province, and therefore this [KESC figure] is ridiculous,” said Elahi. read more.

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20121209

* Baldia Factory Fire: Court dismisses bail application of two security guards:

A district and sessions court dismissed on Saturday the bail applications of two security guards of the Baldia garment factory.

The fifth additional district and sessions judge, West, Abdullah Channah, dismissed the bail-after-arrest applications of Ali Muhammad and Fazal Mehmood, and reserved the verdict.
The counsel for the guards, Muhammad Tamim Khan, said that the applications were denied around noon, but he could not get hold of the grounds on which the judge took that decision.

Khan will receive copies of the judgment on Monday, after which he said, he will file an application for bail in the Sindh High Court.
The police had arrested the guards on charges of their involvement in the factory fire that took over 250 lives in September this year. to read.

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20121210

* Fresh samples for DNA test sent to Islamabad:

Police investigators have sent fresh samples, collected again from the 33 unidentified bodies at the Edhi morgue, to a forensic laboratory in Islamabad for DNA matching with the families whose loved ones have been missing since the Sept 11 Baldia Town factory inferno.

The exercise for the identification of the 33 bodies, which are beyond recognition, was started afresh following a recent Sindh High Court directive in the Baldia factory fire case, while the families of many victims desperate to know their fate for the past three months have been told to wait for another two weeks.
The process, officials said, could take 15 to 20 days.

“We had collected the samples on Nov 30,” said Dr Jalil Qadir, the police surgeon who heads a medical team tasked with the job.

He said: “Thirty one complete bodies are beyond recognition, while two others can’t be said complete bodies but fragments of bodies. The samples of all 33 objects were collected and handed over to the police investigators for further process.”
read more.

* Baldia blaze fails to move authorities:

The horrific Baldia factory fire in September this year that claimed over 250 lives was apparently not enough to wake up the government’s welfare labourer institutes from their slumber as they are still not making any efforts to register the thousands of employees working at the city’s factories.

The registration would have paved way for ensuring safety measures at workplaces so that a tragedy like the one in Baldia does not recur, but the death of so many workers in that blaze failed to change the attitude of the authorities.

Besides, the high court had also ordered the authorities concerned to register industrial workers, but the directives remain unimplemented.
There are 5,000 industrial units in Korangi Industrial Area (KIA) and only half of them are registered with the Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI), the Sindh Employees’ Social Security Institution (Sessi) and the Labour Department.

According to a survey conducted by The News, there are around 500,000 or 600,000 workers are these 2,500 industries. However, only 100,000 of them are registered with these institutes.

These unregistered workers have been serving in these industries for a long time and no efforts are being made to register them. There is also no action against the industrialists who did not have their workers registered. As per Sessi and the EOBI specifications, any industry where a minimum of five workers are working should have its employees registered with these organisations. read more.

* Now the threats:

The devastating fire in a garment factory in Baldia Town, Karachi on September 11 took the lives of over 250 labourers, 28 of whom are still lying in an Edhi morgue, unidentified and likely to be buried in nameless graves unless somebody comes forward to claim them.

This was the worst industrial accident in the history of Pakistan and has prompted much debate and soul searching about safety in the workplace, as well as giving rise to an ongoing court case – wherein tragedy is now compounded. The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), among other organisations, alleged at a press conference on Wednesday that the case being brought on behalf of the legal heirs of some of the victims has become the target of ‘threats’.

The case is an attempt to identify those responsible for the fire. At a hearing on December 3, it was alleged that the lawyer representing the complainants was ‘photographed’ in a presumed attempt to intimidate him. Many witnesses have changed their statements in court and more are said to be thinking of changing their statements at the next hearing – the presumption being that they have also been intimidated into recanting or altering their original words. read more.

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20121211

*  SAI: Q & A: Ali Enterprises Fire in Karachi:

Released: September 20, 2012 Updated: December 7, 2012

Social Accountability International’s (SAI) mission is to promote workers’ rights in a world often indifferent to them. All of us at SAI and at Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS) are horrified by the fire at Ali Enterprises in Karachi,
Pakistan, on September 11, in which nearly 300 workers died and many more were injured.
On 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 on August 20, 2012.
SAAS, the accreditation agency that oversees the certification aspects of the SA8000 system, immediately began an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the certification. We expect a full report to be issued in early 2013. In the
interim, both SAI and SAAS have been working to take action to improve the overall SA8000 system; these specific actions are detailed in the questions and answers below.
Many media reports in the days and weeks following the fire contained inconsistent factual information. After the fire, SAI issued a ‘Question & Answer’ (Q & A) document on September 20 to help sort through the inevitable confusion based on
verified information. As our investigation is ongoing, we have updated this Q & A document to provide more detail and information to the extent that we know them at this time. For additional information, you can dpwnload the pdf here..

* Tribunal identifies short circuit as cause:

The tribunal probing the Baldia factory fire has arrived at the conclusion that a short circuit was responsible for the horrific tragedy.

It has also stressed the need for strictly implementing the rules and regulations pertaining to old and newly-established factories
In its report presented to the provincial chief executive at the Chief Minister’s House on Monday, the tribunal described the causes of the horrific blaze, the damages incurred and the loss of life in the tragedy.

The tribunal head, Justice (Retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi, who is also the chairman of the Pakistan Zakat Council, Sindh, also presented suggestions and recommendations with regard to the infrastructure of factories, security measures and the protection of labourers and other staff, according to a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s House.  read more.

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20121213

* Tribunal identifies short circuit as cause:

The tribunal probing the Baldia factory fire has arrived at the conclusion that a short circuit was responsible for the horrific tragedy.

It has also stressed the need for strictly implementing the rules and regulations pertaining to old and newly-established factories
In its report presented to the provincial chief executive at the Chief Minister’s House on Monday, the tribunal described the causes of the horrific blaze, the damages incurred and the loss of life in the tragedy.

The tribunal head, Justice (Retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi, who is also the chairman of the Pakistan Zakat Council, Sindh, also presented suggestions and recommendations with regard to the infrastructure of factories, security measures and the protection of labourers and other staff, according to a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s House.  read more.

* SHC orders protection for witnesses, evidence to be ‘preserved’:


Petitioners’ lawyer claims in court that he is being threatened for taking up the case. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

The Sindh High Court ordered the home secretary and inspector-general of police on Wednesday to provide complete protection to the witnesses of the Baldia factory fire and also preserve the evidence so far collected “fully and effectively”.

The judges have also called a report of the inquiry into the factory fire which was conducted by a government-appointed judicial commission, headed by a retired judge of the high court.

The proceedings against the factory owners by the different workers and human rights organisations took a new turn on Wednesday, as their lawyer pleaded for urgent hearing of the case, saying that he was being “threatened for representing the case.”
Faisal Siddiqui, the lawyer representing the petitioners, told the judges that he had received a threatening call and that “some people took my pictures on my visit to the courts on December 3.”

Witness protection
The lawyer alleged that the prosecution witnesses were being harassed by the owners of Ali Enterprises – Arshad and Shahid Bhaila – for testifying in court against them. read more.

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20121217

* Baldia factory tragedy raises questions on fire dept efficiency:

The tragedy of Baldia Town factory fire, followed by a series of fire eruption in several industrial units in the metropolis, raised several questions on security measures and efficiency of relevant departments, particularly fire brigade department of Karachi Metropolitan Corporation.

The incident that claimed more than 350 innocent and precious lives jolted the entire society and opened a furious debate over various causes and impacts of the incident. Apart from the theories behind the cause of the tragedy, one of the main questions was if relevant departments, particularly fire brigade, is competent enough to combat any emergency or fire incident in the city.

Responding to the dire need of some solid measures and a comprehensive movement to avert such horrible incidents, labourers organistions joined hands andformed a consortium entitled ‘Workers Rights Movement’ so as to put a pressure on all stakeholders for some concrete steps, instead of lip services.

Talking to Daily Times,WRM leader Nasir Mansoor said in the case of Baldia town tragedy and other incidents, the criminal negligence of factory owners, incapability of the relevant rescue departments, including fire brigade, was a major cause of irreparable losses.
“If there was a snorkel, loss of lives could be significantly reduced.” He said that there were about 10,000 industrial units in the SITE area, out of which 90 percent were not registered, he claimed.  read more.

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20121220

*  Court calls for report on forensic tests:

The Sindh High Court has called for a detailed report on whether the various mandatory forensic tests at the Baldia factory fire site were carried out or not.

The division bench, headed by Justice Maqbool Baqir, was hearing a petition on Wednesday seeking a judicial inquiry of the fire at Ali Enterprises, where more than 250 people were burnt alive on September 11.
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan among some factory workers and human rights organisations have taken the owners to court over their alleged negligence that led to the tragedy.

Various tests were to be carried out at the factory after the blaze but the authorities have yet to disclose if they have done any such forensic tests, argued Amir Raza Naqvi, the factory owners’ advocate.
He also gave the court a sealed envelope containing the details of the factory owners’ assets. The judges made the envelope a part of the record but said the decision to disclose the details shall be taken later. read more.
tribune

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20121223

* Jawad composes special song to pay tributes to workers:

Noted singer Jawad Ahmed has composed a special song to honour and remember those who died in the Baldia Factory tragedy and to show solidarity with their bereaved families.

Addressing a joint press conference at Karachi Press Club, Jawad Ahmed along with Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Karamat Ali and other trade union leaders announced a live concert of the song at Labour Square ground in SITE on Sunday December 30, 2012.

“My song is not only a tribute to the deceased workers, but an inspiration with a commitment that no such incident be happened in the future,” he said. This song will be presented at an event where the family members of the victims as well workers from SITE and other surrounding industrial areas of Karachi will be attending.
read more. & read more. & read more.
daily times PK   tribune thenation

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20121229

* A noble cause: With a new song, singer Jawad Ahmad shifts focus:

The concert may have been put off for a day but pop singer Jawad Ahmad is focused. “I have decided to sing for the working class of the country because I myself belong to this class,” he said as he briefed the media at Hotel Mehran on Friday about his latest song – composed in tribute to the Baldia factory workers, who died in a tragic fire on September 11.

The renowned vocalist will perform his newest tune “Mein Bhi Insaan Hoon” at the Labour Square Ground in SITE on Monday. The concert was originally scheduled to be held on December 30 but was postponed to December 31 over unexplained reasons.

Ahmad has now decided to focus his skills for the betterment of labourers. The lyrics of the song which express the feelings of the working people are his own creation. “The song is more than [just] a song. It’s a call and we will take it as a source of awareness for 85 per cent people of the country – the working class,” he told reporters. read more.
tribune

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20130101

* Song for change: Jawad Ahmed sings to bring a revolution for Pakistan’s labourers:

This concert was unlike any other – instead of posters of rock stars there were pictures of labourers. In the place of ear-piercing shrieks and head-banging, there was only silence and the tears of those so overwhelmed by what they had lost that the pain was no less intense than it was on the fateful day four months ago.

Singer Jawad Ahmed in collaboration with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) had organised a concert on Monday for the families of those who had lost their loved ones in the inferno that engulfed the Ali Enterprises garment factory on September 11. Ahmed had compiled a song titled ‘Pukaar’ for those who had perished in the flames.

“This is not a concert – it’s a wakeup call,” he roared to the hundreds of people who had turned up to the Labour Square ground in SITE, curious to see what he put together for them. As he began to sing, everybody in the ground stood up and silently held the pictures of their loved ones aloft as Ahmed worked the stage for two hours and sang the new song five times. During the final performance, everybody sang along. read more.
tribune

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20130102

* Jawad touches workers’ hearts with his performance:

A large crowd of factory workers, along with women and children belonging to families of hundreds of labourers who died in a massive fire in a garments factory in Baldia Town in September last year, was saddened and many cried over a song ‘Pukar’ by singer Jawad Ahmed at a concert on Monday.

The bereaved families and other workers of the factory were later enthralled by the second part of the song, which called for resolve not to let such incidents happen in future.

The song, a tribute to workers and solidarity with the families of over 250 labourers who died in one of the worst industrial tragedies in the country’s history on September 11, was presented by Ahmed in the concert organised for the labourers by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and other labour organisations and trade unions. read more. & read more in Music for change.
thenewspk

* Remembering Baldia victims:

Last week the 13th Akhtar Hameed Khan Development Forum came as a timely reminder of the injustice befalling the workers in a country where it is a crime to be poor. The forum focused on the Baldia fire tragedy, which has almost faded from public memory.

Now an annual Karachi landmark, the forum commemorates the philosophy and work of that iconic development theorist-cum-activist, whose insight into human nature and society was profound. Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan’s message of self-reliance and a participatory approach to development is most relevant today and has been kept alive by the Orangi Pilot Project, Research and Training Institute (OPP-RTI) under the able stewardship of its director Parveen Rahman.

The Baldia factory fire took place three-and-a-half months ago and a lot of information hitherto unknown has now surfaced. Hence the forum’s move to focus on the anti-workers’ dimension of the incident. Faisal Siddiqi, a lawyer with a conscience who is known for the pro bono work he does taking up cases on behalf of the poor, shed light on the catastrophic details of the events of Sept 11, 2012 when 260 plus people perished in a fire in a garment factory. read more.
dawn

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20130106


* European firm to pay compensation to heirs of Baldia fire victims:

The tragic factory fire had killed around 300 workers and injured several others.

A German buyer of the textile products has agreed to pay compensation to the victims of the Ali Enterprises fire tragedy in Baldia as well as to work for structural changes to improve the system of labour protection in Pakistan.

“Being the major buyer of the Ali Enterprises’ produce, the German brand ‘KiK Textilien’ has been persuaded by Pakistani trade union activists and international labour solidarity organisations including Clean Clothes Campaign to pay compensation to the affected families.”

This was stated by Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Karamat Ali and other trade union leaders and labour rights activists at a press conference at Karachi Press Club on Saturday. Those who were also present on the occasion included Nasir Mansoor of National Trade union Federation; Habibuddin Junaidi, Noor Mohammad and Rehana Yasmeen.

Karamat said Pakistan’s labour rights groups, including PILER had been working with international labour rights groups after the tragic factory fire in Karachi on September 11, 2012 that killed around 300 workers and injured several others.
read more.
daily times PK

* ‘German firm to pay $1m for Baldia factory fire victims’:

A major European buyer of textile products of the ill-fated Ali Enterprises, a factory in Baldia Town that was burnt down in an inferno a few months ago, has agreed to pay up to a total of $1 million as a compensation to the victims of the worst industrial disaster in the country, said labour leaders on Saturday.

Speaking at a press conference organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) at the Karachi Press Club, they said various labour organisations working with the victims would now approach the Sindh High Court to urge it to form a commission, comprising representatives of the workers and the government, to identify the victims and their legal heirs who could be paid compensation.

Piler chief Karamat Ali said Pakistani workers organisations working in association with their European counterparts identified the German brand/buyer, KiK Textilien, a major buyer of the Ali Enterprises’ products, and after persuasion by the workers’ bodies had agreed to pay the amount to the victims and the families affected by the inferno which left about 300 workers burnt to death and several others injured.
read more.
dawn

* Seven more bodies identified through DNA tests:

Seven more bodies of the Baldia factory fire, which were lying in Edhi’s cold storage, have been identified through DNA tests.

According to Edhi official Anwar Kazi, five of the seven indentified bodies were taken by the families while the remaining two are still with Edhi.
Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) executive director Karamat Ali confirmed the identification of these bodies. “There are several more that need to be identified since their families are suffering,” he said.

The fourth month of the Baldia factory fire incident culminates next Friday, and 21 bodies have yet to be identified. At a news conference on Saturday, Ali announced that a German-based textile company, KiK Textilien, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Piler, under which the company will pay compensation to the victims of Ali Enterprises, the factory in which over 260 workers were burnt to death.  read more.
tribune

* Suspects to be indicted on 19th in factory blaze case:

A sessions court on Saturday set Jan 19 as the date for framing charges against owners and officials of a garment factory in Baldia Town, where a devastating fire had claimed the lives of over 250 workers.

The owner of the ill-fated industrial unit, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, who is on bail, and his sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, general manager Mansoor and three gatekeepers have been charge-sheeted in the case.
Additional District and Sessions Judge (west) Abdullah Channa supplied copies to the suspects under Section 265-C (supply of statements and docu-ments to accused) of the criminal procedure code and adjourned the hea-ring till Jan 19 for indictment.

Meanwhile, the same court also extended the interim pre-arrest bail of the managing director of the SITE limited, Abdul Rasheed Solangi, director of the labour department Zahid Gulzar Shaikh, additional controller civil defence Ghulam Akbar and chief inspector, electrical Amjad Ali till the next hearing. read more.
dawn

* Delay in DNA test results: No end to woes of Baldia missing workers’ families:

Long wait of the ill-fated families of Baldia Town garment factory victims who went ‘missing’ after an inferno burnt down the factory on Sept 11, 2012 has not yet ended and their patience is wearing thin by each passing day.

After waiting for more than a month they were told the forensic laboratory in Islamabad to which police had sent fresh samples of 33 unidentified bodies for DNA matching had not yet sent the results. The charred bodies have been kept at the Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth.

The investigator of the case claimed to have sent the samples on Dec 1 under the Sindh High Court orders and expected to receive results within two weeks, but so far the lab has sent matches of only seven victims.

“We have received results of only seven DNA matches,” said Sub-Inspector Jehanzaib of the SITE-B police station, investigation officer of the Ali Enterprises inferno that killed more than 250 people. read more.
dawn

++++++++++++++
20130111

* SHC seeks proposals to form commission for victims’ compensation:

The Sindh High Court called for proposals from the Sindh government, non-government organisations and owners of the Baldia garment factory on Thursday for constitution of a commission to disburse compensation provided by a German firm.

KiK Textilien, a German company, has offered to pay $1 million to those who were injured and families of the 259 workers who were killed in the fire which broke out at Ali Enterprises on September 11, 2012.

Headed by Justice Maqbool Baqir, the division bench was hearing petition filed by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research, and other non-government organisations, who went to court for judicial investigation of the tragedy.

On Thursday, the court was informed that the petitioners and KiK, which was among the various importers Ali Enterprises was making garments for, had come to an agreement to distribute the compensation.

In the first phase, the families of those victims who had not been identified due to severity of burns and decomposition of bodies will be given the same amount as provided to others by the government or non-government sources so far.
read more.
tribune

* SHC loses patience with four-month delay:

More than 250 labourers died in a massive fire at a garments factory in Baldia Town on September 11 last year. Four months on, 33 victims who were burnt beyond recognition remain unidentified despite DNA tests, making their families endure an agonising wait.

On Thursday, the Sindh High Court (SHC) took great exception to the inordinate delay in the identification of these victims, and directed the police to obtain their DNA reports from the Islamabad laboratory in 10 days so that the bodies could be handed over to the affected families.

The court was hearing identical petitions seeking a judicial inquiry into the Category 3 fire, which caused one of the worst industrial disasters in the country’s history.

The petitioners, including the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, requested the constitution of a judicial commission to fix responsibility and suggest monetary compensation for the legal heirs of the victims.

A division bench, headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar, observed that it was painful to note that the fire incident had occurred on September 11, but the identity of over 33 victims had not yet been confirmed. read more.
thenewspk

* KIK signs compensation agreement for Victims of Ali Enterprises Fire Tragedy:

German discount giant KIK this week signed an agreement with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) to make an initial payment to the victims and their families of US$ 1 million for immediate relief, and to negotiate a long term compensation package with all other involved stakeholders.

The Ali Enterprises fire on 11 September 2012 [1] killed 262 workers according to the official death toll, and injured at least 20 others.

The agreement was presented a press conference in Karachi on 5 January in which various local trade unions, including the National Trade Union Federation, participated. Said Karamat Ali, Executive Director of PILER: “KIK is the major buyer of Ali Enterprises. Pakistani trade union activists and international labour solidarity
organisations including Clean Clothes Campaign persuaded the company to pay compensation to the affected families.”

The initial payment will be used to compensate the families of those victims who have not received any government compensation as the bodies have not been identified due to the severity of the burns and the decomposition of the bodies.

“KIK also expressed a willingness to compensate workers who faced severe injuries in the fire leading to disability and loss of future employment. The remaining workers will be assisted in the next step after a compensation amount is agreed upon through a consensus between all stakeholders including employers and other international companies,” added Karamat Ali.

Ineke Zeldenrust, International Coordinator at CCC: ‘We welcome this agreement and look forward to having the full compensations and relief package, which we estimate will be at least 20 million Euro, to be negotiated soon. We continue our campaign towards other international stakeholders, notably auditing organisations SAI and Rina , to also take their responsibility and pay their share of the compensation needed.”

In order to facilitate the compensation process, PILER requests the Sindh High Court to constitute an independent commission to oversee the compensation process and determine all necessary details for the purpose. KIK also agreed to work for better labour rights in Pakistan.

CCC

++++++++++

20130113

* Victims of Baldia factory fire: Parents ask court to expedite DNA tests for unidentified bodies:

The parents of two workers, who were killed in the blaze that broke out at Ali Enterprises on September 11, 2012, filed a case at the Sindh High Court on Saturday against the authorities for failing to determine the identity of their children through DNA tests.

Hussain Ahmed and Dilawar Hussain are among those parents whose sons’ remains are yet to be identified.

At least 259 workers – according to official statistics – were killed in one of the biggest industrial disasters in the country. Rescue workers had retrieved 33 unidentified bodies, charred beyond recognition, from the destroyed building out of which only seven have been identified through DNA tests.  read more.
tribune

* Poor man’s justice:

Two hundred and fifty-nine people died in the Baldia garment factory fire tragedy in Karachi on Sept 11, 2012.

Before this, the highest number of people killed in a factory fire was 146 in the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist garment factory in New York and 187 in the 1993 doll factory fire in Thailand. The factory fire death record remains firmly in Pakistan’s hands.

The prosecution, under the Sindh government, has accused the owners/management of M/s Ali Enterprises running the Baldia factory of deliberate gross criminal negligence, charging them with murder under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code. Contrary to Pakistani practice, this was a surprisingly correct legal approach in this case.

But then, in a speech to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Dec 29, the prime minister is reported to have said: “Authorities should reinvestigate the case and provide justice to the employers of Ali Enterprises if a wrong case has been registered against the factory owners under Section 302 [murder]”. And the KCCI president provided the icing on the cake by describing the tragic fire as merely “an accident”.

The importance of the above statements lies in the tragic fact that there is no understanding about the historical significance of the Baldia factory fire and its implication on the key question as to whether the poor can ever get justice in Pakistan. It has three significant features. read more.
dawn

* SHC seeks comments on delay in identifying victims:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Saturday issued notices to the interior secretary, the provincial police chief and the SITE station house officer on a petition over the failure of the authorities to identify two victims of a Baldia garments factory fire despite the lapse of over four months.

Hussain Ahmed and Dilawar Hussain submitted that their sons, Sharjeel and Asif Aziz, who were worked as a helper and a pressman in the ill-fated factory, Ali Enterprises, lost their lives in the September 11, 2011 blaze, which claimed the lives of more than 250 employees.

They said the authorities obtained blood samples twice for identifying the victims, but despite the lapse of over four months the bodies had been neither identified nor handed over to them for funeral.

The petitioners said that despite a government announcement of compensation for the legal heirs of the victims, they were not being given any compensation. They claimed that the tragic incident had taken place due to lack of safety measures and dishonesty and negligence on the part of the factory owners, other shareholders and government departments, including labour, environment, civil defence, social security and buildings control. read more.
thenewspk

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20131114

* Baldia factory fire case: Police drop ‘intentional murder’ charge against suspects:

In the second such turnaround in the Baldia factory fire case, investigators have dropped premeditated murder charges against all nominated suspects due to “lack of evidence”.

More than 250 people lost their lives on September 11 last year when a fire broke out at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Baldia Town. The case was registered against the factory owners, its general manager, security guards and some government officials over negligence but sections related to intentional murder were also added later.

Now the police have prepared a supplementary charge-sheet withdrawing the accusation because no substantial evidence was found directly implicating the suspects in the killings. read more. & read more.
tribune  dawn

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

20130116

* Accountability: Baldia fire commission report sought:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed the provincial law officer on Tuesday to submit the report of the judicial commission on the Baldia factory fire by January 24.

Justice Maqbool Baqir, who headed the bench, noted that the report had not been submitted by the provincial law officer despite court orders.
He adjourned the case till January 24 and directed the advocate general to submit the report in court.
Meanwhile, the terms of reference to form a commission to disburse the $1 million compensation pledged by a German firm were also submitted. read more.
tribune

+++++++++++

20130122

* Court calls up prosecutor to argue Baldia factory owners’ bail plea:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has called up one of the special public prosecutors to argue the bail pleas of the Ali Enterprises owners on January 28.

The directives came on Monday as the court took up the bail pleas of the Bhaila brothers, who own Ali Enterprises, the garment factory that caught fire on September 11 last year and resulted in the deaths of over 250 workers.

The police arrested Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila after a sessions court rejected their pre-arrest bail applications on October 6, 2012. Their ailing father, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, was granted bail due to old age.

The jailed brothers went to the SHC for concession of bail through their lawyer, Amir Raza Naqvi, who alleged the prosecution had falsely implicated his clients for murder. “They had no intention to kill their own workers and ruin their own business,” he said. “It was simply an accident.”  read more.
tribune

* Jawad Ahmed pays tribute to victims of Baldia factory fire:

Singer Jawad Ahmed is all set to make a comeback with his single Mein Bhi Insaan Hoon, a tribute to the victims of a fire that engulfed Ali Enterprises in Baldia Town and claimed over 200 lives on September 11, 2012.

Ahmed first became popular when the release of his single Allah Meray Dil Ke Andar, a song that talks about the transcendental existence of God. Listeners appreciated the catchy tune and quick rhythm, along with its message of inner peace. After appealing to his audience’s spiritual side, Ahmed is now trying to connect with a wider audience through Mein Bhi Insaan Hoon. The new track is part of his initiative to create awareness about labour laws in Pakistan.
It seems that Ahmed is leveraging his popularity to create social awareness and consciousness; if you ever see him out in public, you’ll notice that a crowd is usually following.

“People had said that the Baldia fire tragedy was a serious issue,” says Ahmed. “But the masses did not understand why.” He further added, “There are really no labour rights in this country. For me, this is important, because I am part of the working class and my efforts will now highlight the struggle of peasants and workers.”
read more.
tribune

++++++++++++

20130124

* Case against Baldia factory owners withdrawn:

Minister of State for Finance, Salim Mandviwala Wednesday disclosed that the case registered against the owners of Baldia Town factory has been withdrawn.

Talking to mediamen in Karachi, the State Minister said that the above case was withdrawn on the orders of Prime Minister.
He said Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf had promised the office bearers of Karachi Chamber of Commerce (KCCI) to have the case withdrawn during his visit to the chamber.
It is pertinent to mention here that more than 250 employees were charred to death following the eruption of fire into the Baldia Town factory, dubbed as the worst fire incident in Pakistan’s history. to read.
PAKOBSERVER

* Baldia Town factory fire: Murder charges against factory owners dropped:

In a move that is likely to baffle most and one that reeks of a cover-up, murder charges against the owners of the Baldia Town factory – the worst factory fire in the world in recent times – have been withdrawn, confirmed Minister of State for Finance Saleem Mandviwalla on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, in a meeting with the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), assured members of the business community that murder charges against the factory owners would be dropped.

However, in a late night development on Wednesday, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad approached the premier and President Asif Ali Zardari to reconsider the decision. The governor told the media that the president had assured him that injustice will not be meted out to the victims’ families.

Moments after the telephonic conversation, Ebad contacted Sindh Inspector General Police Fayaz Leghari to continue the investigation into the case without changing the investigation officers. According to reports, Mandviwala is likely to arrive in Karachi soon to hold meetings with the business community and Sindh governor.
read more. & read more. & read more.
tribune  dawn  geonewslogo

* Ebad concerned over factory blaze remark:

Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad has contacted President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez, expressing concern over the reports that the government dropped murder charges against the owners of a Baldia Town factory where fire killed over 250 people in the country’s worst industrial fire incident, Geo News reported.

The president assured the governor that all the requisites of justice would be met during the course of investigation into the incident.
The governor requested the prime minister that all the constitutional and legal requisites should be implemented so that justice could be provided to the victims.
He said that a case lodged against the owners of the factory under section 302 (premeditated murder) should not be withdrawn. read more.
thenewspk

* Minister changes statement over withdrawal of case against owners:

Minister of State for Finance Salim Mandviwala first disclosed on Wednesday that the case registered against the owners of the Baldia Town garments factory — where a fire had killed more than 250 labourers in September last year — had been withdrawn, and then clarfied that it had not, Geo News reported.

Earlier the minister had said that the case of the Baldia Town garments factory, where a fire had killed more than 250 labourers in September last year, had been withdrawn following directives from Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.
He had said the prime minister has promised the office-bearers of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce (KCCI) to have the case withdrawn during his visit to the chamber.
(…)
Meanwhile, Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad, during a telephonic conversation with the prime minister, has expressed concern over the withdrawal of the case. He also informed Prime Minister Ashraf regarding the legal aspects of the case and asked him not to withdraw the case as it would be injustice with families of the victims.

Later, Governor Ebad directed the IG Sindh to proceed with the case and fulfil all legal aspects providing justice the families of the victims. The coordination committee of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement has also demanded fair and independent investigation of the Baldia factory fire case.
read more.
thenewspk

* Sindh Governor calls Zardari, Ashraf over Baldia factory fire case:

Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan called President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf late on Wednesday evening, appealing to them for ensuring provision of justice for the victims of the Baldia fatory fire, Express News reported.

The governor expressed concern over news that it had been decided to withdraw murder charges against the factory owners. He added that the case cannot be closed in such a manner.
The governor also directed Inspector General Police to speed up investigations in the matter.

Investigators had on January 13 decided to withdraw “intentional murder” charges against all nominated suspects, including the owners of the factory, Ali Enterprises due to lack of substantial evidence. The premier too had taken a personal interest in the case.
Anjuman Tajran Balochistan Quetta city president Nasir Tareen told APP on Wednesday that the Karachi administration had wrongly registered a case under section 302 against the owners of gutted factory prior to finding actual cause of the incident that left over 250 innocent workers killed.  read more.
tribune

* Case against Baldia factory owners not to be withdrawn: Zardari:

President Asif Ali Zardari has assured that the case against owners of fire-struck Baldia factory would not be withdrawn by the government.

The President assured Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan who telephoned him following media reports that Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has ordered withdrawal of case, four months after the industrial disaster in the history of Pakistan.
More than 250 people were perished in the fire at a garment factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town in October last year.

The case had been registered against three owners of the factory –Abdul Aziz, Shahid Bhaila and Rashid Bhaila.
Reports said the PM on Wednesday ordered withdrawal of FIR against the industrialists, fulfilling his promise he made with office-bearers of Karachi Chamber of Commerce (KCCI).  read more.
pakTODAY

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20130125

* PM’s alleged direction in Baldia Factory case:

PPP Senators Raza Rabbani, Babar Awan and Awami National Party legislators on Thursday staged a walkout over the expungement of section 302 against owners of the Baldia Garments Factory Karachi on the direction of the prime minister.

The Baldia Garments Factory caught fire a few months ago in which 270 people were killed. An FIR had been lodged against the owners under section 302. Before the walkout, PPP’s Senator Raza Rabbani told the senators during a briefing that about 270 people were killed in the factory fire.

There are six gates of the factory of which five were locked, while the sixth was closed during the fire. He said the locking of the gate caused the death of the workers for which an FIR was registered against owner of the factory and investigation was opened. However, he regretted that some people met Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf after which he ordered cancellation of section 302 against the factory owners, and also changed the investigative officer.
read more.
daily times PK

* ‘Case against Baldia factory owners not to be withdrawn’:

President Asif Ali Zardari has assured that a case against owners of fire-struck Baldia factory would not be withdrawn by the government.

The President held out this assurance to Governor Sindh Dr. Ishratul Ibad Khan who telephoned him following a report that Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has ordered withdrawal of case, four months after the worst-ever industrial disaster in the history of Pakistan.
More than 250 people were perished the fire at a garment factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town in October last year.  to read. & read more.
PAKOBSERVER  thenewspk

* Senators walk out against PM’s ‘favour’ to Baldia factory owners:

In a rare show of protest from treasury benches against the decision of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to drop murder charges against the owners of Baldia Town Factory in Karachi, PPP lawmakers led by Senator Raza Rabbani and Awami National Party Thursday staged a protest walkout from the Senate.

Raza Rabbani said that on prime minister’s intervention, Section 302 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) regarding murder charges was being dropped from the first information report (FIR), registered against the owners of the factory of Baldia Town where a massive fire last year killed more than 270 labourers. He said that there was a criminal negligence of the owners in that tragic incident.

The PPP central leader said that theirs was a party of the labourers and it could never support the capitalists charged with killing of labourers. He said when labourers in Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) used to protest for their rights, they were charged under anti-terrorism laws and when labourers of the garment factory were killed, the murder charges are being dropped against the negligent owners.  read more.
thenation

* Treasury bench protests dropping of murder charges on PM’s orders:

A fuming Raza Rabbani led a walkout from the Senate on Wednesday in protest against the prime minister’s directives to drop the murder charges against the owners of a factory in Karachi, where a fire last year caused the deaths of over 200 people.

On a point of order, Senator Rabbani from the Pakistan Peoples Party expressed deep concern over reports that section 302 had been scrapped from the FIR lodged against the owners of the Baldia Town factory, where 289 workers burnt to death on September 11, 2012.

On Wednesday, in a meeting with the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had assured the business community that the murder charges against the factory owners would be dropped. This was confirmed by Minister of State for Finance Saleem Mandviwalla.  read more.
tribune

* PM’s office clarifies he asked murder charges to be re-investigated not withdrawn:

The prime minister had not ordered anyone to withdraw the case against the owners of the Baldia garment factory, said his press secretary, Shafqat Jalil, on Thursday. He had instead asked the Sindh chief secretary to re-investigate if they were falsely implicated.

This statement comes amid reports that Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had ordered for the all-important murder charge to be dropped against the owners of the factory where at least 259 people had perished in an inferno on September 11 last year. The trial is set to begin four months on.

Jalil told The Express Tribune that the PM’s directives were given much earlier, on December 29, at an event organised by the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Earlier, Prime Minister Ashraf had no idea under which section the case was registered against the owners of Ali Enterprises,” Jalil said, adding that the premier was “shocked” when the business community told him that the case was registered under Section 302 (premeditated murder). However, the FIR was registered three months earlier, on September 11.   read more.
tribune

* Unless families agree, murder charges can’t be dropped, say Lawyers:

20130125 TRIBUNE familymenbersFILEPhotoAyeshaMirExpress
Family members gathered outside the factory after the fire hoping for some good news. FILE PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

There are only two ways that premeditated murder charges can be dropped against the owners of the Baldia garment factory that was gutted in Pakistan’s worst industrial fire.

Either the families of the victims can agree to it or the prosecution must successfully prove there isn’t enough evidence to support it. The prime minister’s surprising order to drop the charges, however, holds no legal water, say legal experts.

On September 11, last year, at least 259 workers were trapped and burnt to death in the multi-storey Ali Enterprises that was said to be ISO-9000 certified. Owner Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his two sons Arshad and Shahid are facing charges of murder, criminal negligence and common intent. Also booked in the case were five factory employees and four government officials.  read more.
tribune

* Govt won’t be allowed to rob victims of justice:

Left with nowhere to go after all exits were bolted from the outside, around 300 workers were destined to a tragic fate on the premises of Ali Enterprises and labour organisations believe that the government’s decision to withdraw Section 302 from the case against the factory owners is criminal to say the least.

The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education Research (Piler) said on Thursday it would not allow the government to obstruct the course of justice.
The institute was joined by other organisations at the Karachi Press Club. All reacted very strongly to the government’s decision to withdraw Section 302 from the case and deal with the matter under Qisas and Diyat.
Director Piler Karamat Ali told a press conference that the government, including the prime minister, had no moral right to withdraw the murder section against the factory owners.   read more.
thenewspk

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20130127

* ‘What if it were the PM’s son?’  :

“If it had been the prime minister’s son instead of mine, would he have spared the owners?” asked Mohammad Sharif as tears gushed down his face.

Sharif’s eldest son, Hanif, who had a speech and hearing impairment, was among the hundreds of victims who died muted deaths as flames licked the top floor of the factory.

Hanif, 21, worked as a machine operator at Ali Enterprises and despite the disability, was working to contribute to his household with aims to build a roof over his almost mud-plastered house in Ittehad Town.

“My son had small wishes. He wanted to construct rooms and get married,” said the white-bearded Sharif as he choked back his grief on a charpoy (bed) borrowed from a neighbour. The family of nine had been cramming into a single room for the past 25 years. But, Hanif was going to change that; his savings were dedicated to changing the conditions his family lived in.

As the family deals with the loss of Hanif, the news of the murder charges being dropped only adds to their woes. “If the owners are set free, we will lodge murder cases individually. Then we will see how they escape,” said Bashir, Hanif’s uncle.

Shahida Parveen, who dwells with her three children in front of Sharif’s house, was left a widow by the Baldia Town fire.
“I spend every night cursing the owners and weeping. Why didn’t the owners die in the fire? Why was it only the poor?” she said.

Shahida’s husband, Akmal worked as a supervisor at the stitching floor. The family lost their sole breadwinner with Akmal’s death.
“Only God knows how I am living. I don’t have money to buy milk for my children.”

read more.
tribune

* Negligence is not murder, insists KCCI:

Despite widespread uproar over the reports of the government’s decision to drop murder charges against the owner of Ali Enterprises, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) – the biggest chamber of the country – insists that they should be withdrawn and instead the case should continue on the lines of “alleged negligence” on the part of the owner.

The chamber believes there is a clear-cut difference between murder and negligence – both are not in any way synonymous.

“We want the government to complete all the investigations as soon as it can and take action if negligence is proven against the owner of the factory,” KCCI President Muhammad Haroon Agar said in an interview with The Express Tribune. “But we believe that murder charges against the owner are unjustified and should be withdrawn immediately.

“In case of such incidents, even if negligence is proven, you cannot be booked for murder,” said Agar, when asked why the KCCI insists that the government drop the murder charges. “Yes, one may be jailed in such cases and we would not have any problem if he were jailed on charges of negligence.”  read more.
tribune

* Fire fallout:

The Baldia factory fire last year killed 289 people and should have become the focus for a concerted nationwide campaign to raise the standards of safety in the workplace.

So many workers died because the doors were locked from the outside and the firefighting and warning systems were inadequate – both within the factory and in terms of responses by the emergency services. Yet, instead of being a tragedy from which lessons are learned and new measures implemented, it has turned into a legal battlefield in which the losers may be the relatives of the dead and the winners the factory owners who bear a considerable responsibility for the lives lost.

The government’s response to the tragedy says a great deal about how our ‘democratic’ leaders think and the extent to which they respect – or fail to respect – the rights of the working classes. The families of the dead were shocked on Wednesday last week when Minister of State for Finance Salim Mandviwalla said that charges under Section 302 against the factory owners were being withdrawn from the case. read more.
thenewspk

++++++++++++

20130128

* Tribunal chief alleges negligence on part of management:

The inquiry tribunal, formed by the Sindh government to ascertain the causes of Baldia factory fire, has submitted its report to the Sindh Home Department and the Chief Minister but it is yet to be made public.

The tribunal, led by Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Alavi and assisted by Additional Secretary Home Dr. Khalil-ur-Rehman, was given the task to ascertain the causes of fire at M/s Ali Enterprises in September 2012 and fix responsibility.

Talking to The News on Sunday, Chairman of the Tribunal Justice Alavi said that he has submitted the inquiry report to the Home Department as well as the chief minister Sindh, which should be made public, adding: “I have already made the report public when I allowed media to report all proceedings of the tribunal”.
read more.
thenewspk

* SHC issues notices to PM’s principal secretary, others:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday issued notices to Ayub Qazi, the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, and others for Feb 14 for allegedly interfering in the Baldia factory fire case, DawnNews reported.

A local NGO had filed a petition in the court requesting it to take notice of interference from Prime Minister Ashraf in the Baldia factory fire case and had asked the SHC to declare the alleged intrusion as illegal.

The case filed against the owners of fire-struck garment factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town was withdrawn on the prime minister’s discretion, State Minister for Finance Salim Mandviwalla had said on Jan 23.
The petitioner argued that the prime minister had acted in violation of the Constitution and the decision to withdraw the murder case was against provincial autonomy.
read more.
dawn

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20130129

* ‘Jobless of Baldia factory fire tragedy being given jobs’:

The Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said those who lost their jobs in a Baldia factory fire tragedy were being accommodated in other garment factories.

KCCI said the employers were also providing ration and necessary medical help to the victim’s families and injured. KCCI will make sure the owners compensate the victims adequately.

Karachi Chamber and all the business and industrial community of Karachi had reservations from the day one in respect of handling Baldia fire tragedy, instead of conducting fair and impartial investigation and as a result thereof fixing the responsibility/charges, an FIR was lodged against the owners with PPC 302 (Premeditated murder) along with other clauses pertaining to negligence/accident etc.

KCCI has been agitating the application of PPC 302 in an industrial accident case, as KCCI believes no industrialists or businessmen would purposely destroy his own factory and commit murder of his own workers and it is also not according to the law.
read more.
daily times PK

* Baldia fire case SHC issues notices to PM’s PS, others:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday issued notices to Ayub Qazi, the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, and others for Feb 14 for allegedly interfering in the Baldia factory fire case.

A local NGO had filed a petition in the court requesting it to take notice of interference from Prime Minister Ashraf in the Baldia factory fire case and had asked the SHC to declare the alleged intrusion as illegal.

The case filed against the owners of fire-struck garment factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town was withdrawn on the prime minister’s discretion, State Minister for Finance Salim Mandviwalla had said on Jan 23. read more. & read more. & read more.
PAKOBSERVER  thenation

* Fair probe demanded into Baldia fire inferno:

Reacting on the debate ongoing all over the media and in the parliament regarding the factory fire incident in Baldia Town on September 11, 2012, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry reiterates its position on the matter for all the concerned.

KCCI said, “It was undoubtedly a horrible incident of fire and the loss of 259 lives is a colossal tragedy and by all means it should be investigated fairly.” It said the responsibility be fixed and whosoever was found at fault or negligent must be punished accordingly as per the law of the land and all such measures be taken to avoid such reoccurrence in future.

Karachi Chamber strongly believes that all the affected families must be compensated accordingly that is why Karachi Chamber had requested all the concerned to compensate the victim’s families including the owners. It is pertinent to mention here that federal and Sindh governments have already compensated the victims’ heirs.
The KCCI has also been able to get other garment factories to adjust the employees who have lost their jobs in the said incident. The employers are also providing ration and necessary medical help to the victim’s families and the injured. It will make sure that the owners compensate the victims adequately.  read more.
thenation

* Notices issued on plea against removal of murder charge in Baldia factory fire case:

The Sindh High Court on Monday issued notices to the principal secretary of the prime minister, the Sindh chief secretary and others in a petition against the removal of the murder charge on a direction of the PM against owners of the Baldia Town garment factory, where a devastating fire had claimed lives of over 250 workers.

The petition was filed jointly by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research, the Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum, the National Trade Union Federation, the Hosiery Garments Textile and General Workers Union, Javed Iqbal Burki and Syed Ammad Bin Tahir.

The petitioners, represented by Advocates Faisal Siddiqui and Waseem Iqbal Malik, also impleaded the home secretary, the provincial police chief, the director-general of the Sindh Building Control Authority, the Sindh labour secretary, secretary of the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, the Regional Inspection and Certification Agency (pvt) Limited, RINA Services of Italy and the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency as respondents.

A division bench headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar issued notices to all respondents and put off the hearing to Feb 14.  read more.
dawn

* SHC reserves order on bail pleas:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday reserved its order on bail pleas of owners, production manager, and watchman of the garment factory of Karachi that caught fire on September 11 last year and resulted in more than 250 deaths.

Police had arrested Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila after a sessions court rejected their pre-arrest bail applications on October 6, 2012, whereas their ailing father, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, was granted bail due to old age.
Amir Raza Naqvi on behalf of the applicants, namely Arshad Abdul Aziz and Shahid Abdul Aziz, submitted that investigation carried out by the police into the incident was influenced and full of errors. He said that they had no intention to kill their own workers and ruin their own business, adding that it was just an accident.
He said that police recorded the statements of more 800 witnesses, and not a single witness had testified that the factory owners had ordered to seal the factory doors when the fire erupted.  read more.
pakTODAY

+++++++++++++++++

20130131

* SHC forms body to distribute compensation:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday constituted a commission under the supervision of former Supreme Court Judge, Justice (retd) Rehmat Hussain Jaffery, to distribute compensation to the legal heirs of the Baldia factory fire victims.

The court was hearing identical petitions seeking a judicial inquiry over the tragic fire that erupted at the Ali Enterprises factory and claimed the lives of nearly 300 people in September of last year.

The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) and others filed a petition in Sindh High Court for the constitution of a judicial commission to determine the people responsible for the tragedy and suggest monetary compensation for the legal heirs of the victims.

The court also directed the police to complete the identification process of 24 fire victims so that the bodies could be handed over the families.
The counsel of the factory owners Amir Raza Naqvi said that compensation worth Rs. 61.8 million would be taken from the accounts of the factory owners and deposited to the Nazir. read more.
thenewspk

++++++++++++++++

20130201

* Pakistani unions demand justice for textile workers:

Outraged by the news that Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf called for murder charges to be dropped against the brothers who own a Karachi garment factory where 259 workers were killed, unions in Pakistan protested on 30 January 2013.

The National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), an IndustriALL affiliate, and other labour rights organizations have filed petitions against the owners of Ali Enterprises, the garment factory in Karachi where almost 300 workers were killed in a devastating fire on 12 September 2012. (http://www.industriall-union.org/horror-in-pakistan-after-300-workers-die) As it is a case of loss of life, the State initiates the legal actions, NTUF and others have filed petitions, which are being heard by the Sindh High Court.

Mr. Ashraf intervened in the factory fire case on 29 December in an address to Karachi business leaders where he recommended the murder charges be withdrawn against the owners, brothers Arshad and Shahid Bhaila, who have been in jail since September and face trial. Two weeks after the Prime Minster’s comments, a senior police official applied with the court to have the charge dropped. read more.
INDUSRIall

20130203

* Beacon of hope: Compensation in sight for Baldia fire families:

While the fate of the intentional murder proceedings against the owners of the Baldia garment factory has yet to be decided, there appears to be some relief for the victims’ families.

The Sindh High Court has formed an independent commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Rehmat Hussain Jaffery, to disburse the amount of compensation pledged by the government and private parties among the victims’ families.

A petition was filed by several human rights organisations demanding an “independent” judicial investigation of the fire that broke out in Ali Enterprises on September 11, 2012, and killed up to 259 workers. The owners of the factory were taken into custody but Abdul Aziz Bhaila was let go due to his old age. His sons, Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, some employees and government officials are currently in jail on charges of intentional murder and criminal negligence.
read more.
tribune

* Looking for a way out?: SHC reserves order on Baldia factory owners’ bail plea:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) reserved its verdict on Monday on bail applications filed by the owners and employees of the Baldia factory, where the country’s worst industrial disaster took place.

Abdul Aziz Bhaila, his sons, Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, are among the factory managers and government officials, who are facing charges of murder, criminal negligence and common intention. Nearly 259 workers were killed when Ali Enterprises caught fire on September 11, last year.

The police arrested Arshad and Bhaila after a sessions court rejected their pre-arrest bail applications on October 6, 2012. Their ailing father, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, was granted bail due to his old age.

Opposing their bail applications, special public prosecutor Shazia Hanjrah said there was strong evidence available on record to prove their role in the alleged offence. “There is a list of 830 witnesses of the tragic incident,” she said. “A number of witnesses, including the workers of Ali Enterprises and its adjoining industrial units, have clearly stated that the factory owners had ordered their watchmen to lock up all the doors after the fire broke out.” read more.
tribune

* Dna testing: Another body identified:

The body of another Baldia factory fire victim was handed over on Monday to his family after DNA tests had revealed his identity.

According to an Edhi spokesperson, the body was that of 42-year-old Mohammad Azeem, who used to live in Sector 14-A, Orangi Town. It was handed over to his family after being identified through DNA tests. The spokesperson added that 20 more unidentified bodies are still lying in Edhi cold storage and their DNA test reports have yet to be received. to read.
tribune

* Baldia factory fire case: Murder charge removed without informing prosecutor, court told:

A special public prosecutor told a sessions court on Saturday that the investigation officer of the Baldia Town factory fire case had dropped the murder charge in a supplementary charge-sheet without informing her and she wanted to give arguments against it.

The owner of the ill-fated industrial unit, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, and his two sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, general manager Mansoor and gatekeepers Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Mehmood, Ali Mohammad and Shahrukh have been charge-sheeted in the case.

Recently, the IO submitted a supplementary charge-sheet in court in which he dropped Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code and charge-sheeted the suspects only in Sections 322 (punishment for qatl-bis-sabab), 337 (Shajjah) and 34 (common intention) of the PPC read with Section 512 (record of evidence in absence of accused) of the criminal procedure code and also exempted officials of the civic agencies. read more.
dawn

* Court seeks prosecutor’s help over supplementary charge sheet:

To accept or not to accept the supplementary charge sheet minus Section 302 in the Baldia factory fire case is the question. And the additional district and sessions court (West) directed the special public prosecutor on Saturday to assist it in determining what should be done.

Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, two of the three owners of the ill-fated factory, Ali Enterprises, are among several people, including factory manager and staffers and the SITE MD, who are facing charges of murder (Qatal-bisabab), attempt to murder and mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage.

Investigation Officer (IO) Jehanzaib Khan had filed the supplementary charge sheet on January 5 after removing Section 302 (Qatl-e-Amd) of the Pakistan Penal Code, submitting that since no case of murder with intent was made out, he dropped the murder charges. Section 302 had been part of the previous two charge sheets presented to the court. The court asked Special Public Prosecutor Shazia Hanjra to argue so as to determine whether or not the supplementary charge sheet after the removal of Section 302 could be accepted. read more.
thenewspk

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20130204

* Baldia inferno case: a cover-up:

The Baldia inferno was a big accident. I personally went through the entire police file and the order of the magistrate in which he had issued warrants for arrest of officials of the civil defence, labour department and SITE.

There was a clear violation of the cabinet meeting’s decision of 2001 in which it was decided that the labour department and civil defence would carry out a joint visit twice a month to various factories, but during the past 11 years there had not been a single visit.

While going through the police file, before inserting section 302 PPC, I asked inquiry officer Jahan Zeb about the performance of fire-tenders and the role of the officers of Civil Defence Department, Labour Department and SITE. I did not get any proper reply.

Although investigators knew that there were other factors involved such as extortion and terrorism, they were only concerned about the deletion of Section 302 PPC instead of taking action against the negligent departments.

I would like to draw the attention of victims’ families that prosecutors worked on the case under stress so that government officers should not be nominated as accused, and the police did not furnish a list of all officers who had been working since 2001 till the incident.
The repetition of such an incident cannot be ruled out because our government functionaries have been providing shelter to the culprits.
A VICTIM.
toread .
dawn

++++++++++

20130205

* Another body identified:

Another body previously recovered from the Baldia factory fire and which was lying in Edhi’s cold storage, has been identified on Monday through a DNA test.
According to officials, the identified body was later taken by the family members of the deceased while 19 other unidentified bodies were still in the possession of Edhi centre.
The sources said that the victim was identified as Mohammad Afzal s/o Mohammad Ashraf.
The 27-year-old victim was a resident of Orangi Town’s sector 13-D, they further said. On September 11 last year, over 260 workers were burnt to death when fire engulfed Ali Enterprises, the factory situated in Baldia Town area of Karachi. to read.
pakTODAY

++++++++++++++++

20130207

* Compensation: Families of Baldia victims hold protest:

The families of the victims of Baldia factory fire held a protest near the building of the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday demanding that they be paid compensation announced by the government.

“In addition to compensations, pensions should also be given to the next-of-kin of the victims,” said one elderly protester. The protesters moved on to the Karachi Press Club as the police didn’t allow them to approach the assembly gate. Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, on the other hand, told the media that compensations had already been paid. to read.
tribune

* Jawad Ahmad launches video for Baldia affectees:

Famous singer Jawad Ahmed on Wednesday launched a video of his song “Sun Lo Keh Hm Mazdoor hen” here at a local hotel.

Jawad dedicated this song to the laborers killed in Baldia Town factory fire incident. On the occasion, while expressing solidarity with laborers of the world, he told that he was a laborer himself and most of the people did not know this fact. to read.
thenation

* Sunn Lo Kay Hum Mazdoor Hain By Jawad Ahmad- for Baldia affectees:

 WORKER OF THE WORLD, UNITE!

Jawad Ahmad’s Song “Sunn Lo Kay Hum Mazdoor Hain” to pay tribute to the workers of Baldia Factory, Karachi, who were burnt alive in the fire and for showing our solidarity with their families who are still suffering and facing miserable living conditions because of the man made disaster.

It was a catastrophe that could easily have been prevented if the existing labour laws were more humane or were atleast properly implemented in Pakistan.

Don’t You Ever Forget It…

My Tears, my Screams
My Burning, my Crying
My Shouting with Pain…
My Helpless Dying…
Don’t You Ever Forget It…

Just because I am a poor Worker...
Remember that I Am also Human….

My Body feels pain the same way as does yours…
We will never ever Burn and Die like This….

Despotic is the rule, unjust is the law…
Just because I am a poor Worker...
Remember that I Am also Human….

The Hell that you are so afraid of…
I have already gone through its experience…
Look how my dreams burnt in the flames…
And my Body smouldered and melted…

After this catastrophe, you are still quiet…
Just because I am a poor Worker...
Remember that I Am also Human….

My meal was simple food…
My clothes were inexpensive…
I used to do hard labour…
Through which I earned my family’s living…

My death was an accident…
Just because I am a poor Worker...
Remember that I Am also Human….
My Body feels pain the same way as does yours…

Listen everyone, we are the Workers…
This whole world is because of us…
You must know now, we are the workers…

Remember that I Am also Human….
Whatever you have, to eat, to wear, to use, to live in…
We, the Workers, have made it all….
We have made this world run….
Industry, agriculture, progress, riches, are all because of us….
We run the factories and the institutions…
We will never let this happen again….
Now we will never ever burn and die like this…

My Body feels pain the same way as does yours…
We will never ever Burn and Die like This….
Don’t You Ever Forget It…
See  & Listen…Video
RISEFORPAKISTAN

++++++++

20130208

* Denied closure, families of Baldia factory fire victims agree to mass burial:

20130208 TRIBUNE missingpeople
The family of Akmal, one of the victims of the Baldia factory fire, have been struggling to make ends meet since the incident. PHOTO: FILE

Tired of waiting for the remains of their loved ones to be identified, families of this subset of Baldia fire victims have agreed to the government’s proposal to hold a mass burial for charred corpses that are lying at Edhi morgue.

“I have been waiting to get my son’s body for months, and now they tell me that I won’t be able to get it,” said Muhammad Rauf, whose 18-year-old son, Muhammad Haris, was among the victims.

On Wednesday, Sindh Health Minister Sagheer Ahmed had announced that a mass burial of the 17 charred bodies that are lying at the Edhi morgue would be held on Sunday. The minister’s statement was lambasted by trade unionists during a press conference on Thursday.

The unionists, as well as activists, of various human rights organisations demanded that the independent commission formed by the Sindh High Court, headed by former Supreme Court judge Rehmat Hussain Jaffery, should be made responsible for disbursing all compensation among the victims’ families.  read more.
tribune

* Move for mass burial of fire victims slammed:

Labour leaders and civil society representatives demanded on Thursday that compensation be immediately paid to the heirs of all Baldia factory fire victims including the ones whose DNA results were awaited.

Speaking at the press conference, organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) at the press club on Thursday, they demanded that the payments be made through a commission set up by the Sindh High Court and headed by retired Supreme Court judge Rehmat Hussain Jaffery.

Karamat Ali of Piler, Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation and trade union leaders Noor Mohammad, Nawab Ali and Rehana Yasmeen criticised Sindh Health Minister Sagheer Ahmad over his reported statement that the bodies being kept in the Edhi morgue would be buried together. They questioned the move for mass burial of the bodies through the district administration. They asked the government to decide about the burial of the bodies in consultation with the Sindh High Court and the commission it constituted. read more.
dawn

* Trade unionists demand compensation to Baldia factory victims:

Trade unions leaders have demanded of the government to provide compensation to all the families of the Baldia factory fire victims, including those who waiting for DNA reports through the commission headed by retired judge of Supreme Court Justice (R) Rahmat Hussain Jafery, set up by the Sindh High Court.

Addressing a joint press conference at Karachi Press Club on Thursday afternoon the Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Karamat Ali, Nasir Mansoor of National Trade Union Federation and others criticised the statement by Sindh Health Minister that the remaining bodies would be collectively buried soon.

Sindh Minister Dr Sagheer Ahmad who, at a meeting with relatives of the deceased on Wednesday, said that the bodies remaining in the Edhi morgue would be buried collectively. They said after such a long wait period and despite the conducting of the DNA testing 3 times, the bodies have still not been able to be identified, which proves that in this country there is no effective DNA testing system. This is a grave matter.
read more. & read more.
daily times PK  thenation

* Pakistani unions demand justice for textile workers:

Outraged by the news that Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf called for murder charges to be dropped against the brothers who own a Karachi garment factory where 259 workers were killed, unions in Pakistan protested on 30 January 2013.

The National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), an IndustriALL affiliate, and other labour rights organizations have filed petitions against the owners of Ali Enterprises, the garment factory in Karachi where almost 300 workers were killed in a devastating fire on 12 September 2012. (http://www.industriall-union.org/horror-in-pakistan-after-300-workers-die) As it is a case of loss of life, the State initiates the legal actions, NTUF and others have filed petitions, which are being heard by the Sindh High Court.

Mr. Ashraf intervened in the factory fire case on 29 December in an address to Karachi business leaders where he recommended the murder charges be withdrawn against the owners, brothers Arshad and Shahid Bhaila, who have been in jail since September and face trial. Two weeks after the Prime Minster’s comments, a senior police official applied with the court to have the charge dropped. read more.
INDUSRIall

++++++++

20130209

* The proletariat in peril:

When a fire started at the Ali Enterprises factory in Baldia Town, Karachi on September 11, 2012, the factory’s only door (and way out) was locked, presumably to keep the over 800 workers from stealing garments.

This fire eventually led to the deaths of about 300 workers. It is safe to assume that if the factory had an active labour union, the door would not have been locked and the workers would not have been trapped inside.
When the prime minister issued directions to drop murder charges against the factory owners of the burnt down factory a couple of weeks ago, an active labour federation in the country would have called a nationwide strike. None was seen. The failure of labour to appear as a bargaining agent in one of the worst industrial fires in Pakistan’s history requires at least a moment of sombre reflection.

Collective bargaining is a fundamental right for labour – however the constitution of Pakistan does not admit it and our statute books do not protect it. The result is that active labour unions are the most repressed institution in the country.
On the other hand, owners of the means of production and distributors are free to create their associations as bargaining tools.
These associations have come into the public eye by demonstrating their ability to shut segments of the economy, a task earlier thought to be reserved for labour. At various moments in the last two years, the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma), the All Pakistan CNG Association and the Pakistan Pharma Manufacturers Associations have shut shop. read more.
thenewspk

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20130210

* In remembrance: Country’s worst industrial disaster comes alive through art:

In a city where tragedy strikes nearly every day, the Baldia factory fire that killed over 250 people remains etched in every resident’s memory.

To show just how tragic the industrial disaster was, a bunch of students decided to immortalise the tragedy through art. On Friday evening, the exhibition ‘Awaaz’ opened at the Arts Council, where people saw the imaginations of around 83 artists on sculptures, portraits, video and sound installations.

As soon as you enter the hall, you will see Seher Naveed’s ‘Emergency Exist’, a red and black light box built digitally and illuminated by three tube lights. Explaining the concept behind it, Naveed, who teaches at the Indus Valley School (IVS) of art and architecture, said that her work shows symbols of a person as depicted on emergency signs. “The direction signs are missing because I wanted to show how the factory workers must have felt in a chaotic situation without any exit.”

Adeela Suleman, the organiser and an IVS faculty member, said that the purpose of the exhibition was to show how artists are sensitive to tragedies that take place around us. “We will keep our Awaaz alive until justice is served to the affected families. We won’t let anyone forget what happened to all those people.”
read more.
tribune

* Artists pay tribute to Baldia fire victims:

Last year on Sept 11 Pakistan witnessed the most horrific industrial accident in its history when a textile factory in Karachi’s Baldia town area caught fire.

It took 259 innocent lives and many of the survivors received injuries. To pay tribute to the fire victims, an exhibition titled Awaz opened at the Arts Council Karachi on Friday.

More than 60 artists are taking part in the display and all of them have shown the kind of sensitivity that’s required to paint, draw or portray such a calamitous event.
Some have opted for more direct ways of expressing themselves while others have chosen the roundabout, rather abstract style of putting their ideas across. And all of them have managed to convey their feelings in a pretty convincing manner.

Sara Khan uses the ‘emergency’ warning that one finds in every office building with a difference. Using both the Urdu and English languages she makes it clear that when such a tragedy happens, those who belong to the underprivileged segment of society are often left to their own devices. The words on her digital print artwork read, “In case of emergency, help yourself.” read more.
dawn

* Awaaz: The voice of Baldia fire:

20130210 DAWN jeans1

Burnt jeans lie on a stand next to a table piled with matchboxes. A photo collage of smiling faces and a timeline of major infernos that have taken place in Pakistan in blaring red complete the scene in the hall, recreated to recall the day a factory fire in Karachi’s Baldia Town claimed the lives of over 250 people.

A blood-splattered candle wax figure, depicting the last moments of a helpless victim is perhaps the most striking pieces on display, enough to make the visitors stop in their tracks.

In the center of the room, a pile of paper planes made out of newspaper clippings on the incident falls over itself, perhaps symbolic of how the nation now deals with the ever-increasing disasters.

The tragedy with Karachi, in particular, is that whatever good, bad or ugly happens here is forgotten almost immediately. To prevent the Baldia fire from becoming ‘just another incident’ a consortium of more than 60 artistes from various areas have set up an exhibition called ‘Awaaz’ at the Arts Council. read & see more.
dawn

* After the inferno:

Sparks continue to ignite from the Baldia factory fire in Karachi that killed nearly 300 labourers in September last year.

The families of the victims have since then been seeking justice, fighting apparent attempts to let the owners off the hook and trying to recover bodies charred beyond recognition.
At a press conference on Thursday, the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), the National Trade Union Federation and other unions questioned an announcement by the Sindh health minister that some 17 still unidentified bodies would, in all likelihood, be buried together.

The labour leaders asked what the purpose of the sophisticated and expensive DNA testing had been if no conclusions could be reached from it. They also sought a decision on the burials and compensation from the judicial commission set up by the Sindh High Court.
While the families of 210 labourers killed in the worst blaze in our industrial history have received compensation, 22 other families to whom bodies were recently handed over are still to receive the amount, while there is still the matter of the unidentified bodies to be solved. Labour leaders and activists also say it is still impossible to determine precisely how many persons died in the fire. read more.
thenewspk

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20130211

* SHC grants bail to all accused:

All accused in the Baldia factory fire case, including the factory owners, were awarded bail by the Sindh High Court on Monday, reported Express News.

Justice Ghulam Sarwar Korai of SHC ordered the release of all the accused who were earlier arrested in the case. Factory owners Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila will have to submit surety bonds worth Rs1 million, while the other accused will submit bonds worth Rs200,000.

The Bhaila brothers own Ali Enterprises, the garment factory in Karachi that caught fire on September 11 last year and resulted in the deaths of over 250 workers.
read more. & read more.
tribune  thenewspk

* SHC releases Baldia factory owners on bail: Lawyer:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday released Baldia factory owners, Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila, a lawyer representing the men said.

“The court ordered the owners to deposit one million rupees ($10,000) each and the three employees to deposit 200,000 rupees each to get bail,” said lawyer Aamir Raza Naqvi.
The owners of the Ali Enterprises factory in Baldia Town, Karachi, who made ready-to-wear garments for Western stores, were charged in the wake of last September’s blaze. Claiming the lives of more than 250 workers, Baldia fire is one of the worst industrial accidents in Pakistan’s history.

Earlier in January police withdrew charges of premeditated murder in a supplementary charge-sheet filed in court. The police, however, filed a new investigation report charging Bhaila with negligence but not murder, Naqvi said.
read more.
dawn

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20130212

* Baldia factory fire Bail granted to all accused:

Sindh High Court presided over by Justice Ghulam Sarwar Korai, granted bail to all accused including owners of Baldia town Factory that caught fire last year killing over 290 people in Karachi.

The court ordered the release of all the accused who were earlier arrested in the case. Factory owners Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila will have to submit surety bonds worth Rs1 million, while the other accused will submit bonds worth Rs200, 000 each.
Earlier, the death penalty case against Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila of the Ali Enterprises was withdrawn on PM Raja Pervez Ashraf’s  directives, fulfilling his promise he made with office-bearers of Karachi Chamber of Commerce (KCCI). However the Prime Minister had to faced lot of criticism from his own party and coalition members.
It may be recalled that in he factory fire over 290 persons were burnt alive in September last year. to read.
PAKOBSERVER

* Murder charges dropped against Baldia garments factory owners:

Police have moved to drop murder charges against the owners of a garment factory, where 289 workers were killed in a fire last year, counsel for Shahid and Arshad Bhaila said on Monday.

The owners of the Ali Enterprises factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town, which made ready-to-wear garments for Western stores, were charged in the wake of last September’s blaze, which was one of the worst industrial accidents in the country’s history.

But police have now filed a new investigation report charging Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila with negligence but not murder, lawyer Aamir Raza Naqvi said. Police confirmed the move. A court is expected rule on whether to accept the new charges on Saturday. read more.
thenation

* Baldia factory owners get bail:

20130212 TRIBUNE BaldiafactoryfirePHOTOFILE
A file photo of the garment factory in Baldia Town, Karachi where a fire left more than 250 people dead. PHOTO: FILE

The owners of a garment factory, where over 250 people were killed in Pakistan’s worst industrial fire last year, have been released on bail, and the police have recommended dropping the key charges of murder against them.

The Sindh High Court (SHC) heard on Monday a request seeking the release of the accused men in the Baldia factory fire case – owners and brothers, Shahid Abdul Aziz Bhaila and Arshad Abdul Aziz Bhaila, factory manager Mohammad Mansoor and watchman Arshad Mehmood.

Arshad and Shahid will be released on bail for one million rupees each and a personal recognisance bond whose amount has to be agreed on by the trial court, the court stated. Mansoor and Mehmood have also been awarded bail for Rs200,000 each. read more.
tribune

* Baldia factory owners out of jail on bail:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday granted bail to two owners of Ali Enterprises, a garment factory in Baldia Town where a massive fire had killed more than 280 labourers in September last year.

Owners Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, the factory manager and other staffers have been charged with murder (Qatal-bisabab), mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage and attempt to murder.

Abdul Aziz Bhaila, a third owner and father of Arshad and Shahid Bhaila, has already been bailed on medical grounds.The incident was the worst industrial disaster in the history of the country, prompting calls for better safety measures at all factories across the country.

Production manager Mansoor Ahmed, Watchman Arshad Mehmood, labour director Zahid Gulzar Sheikh, Managing Director SITE Rasheed Ahmed Solangi, Additional Controller Civil Defence Ghulam Akbar and Electric Inspector Amjad Ali have been named co-accused in the case. read more.
thenewspk

* Seeking redemption: Baldia owners offer groceries in exchange for loyalty:

 On Monday afternoon at a godown in Baldia, Nazia, who lost her husband in the Ali Enterprises inferno, was handed a white envelope of Rs 5,000. The mother of four was told to come back again on the 16th of this month and collect her ration she ‘deserved’. In return, she was told to keep her mouth shut and not to speak ill against the factory owners.

Such pressure tactics being carried by the officials of the gutted factory, Ali Enterprises is likely to increase after the bail of all the men accused in the Baldia fire incident, claim activists.

Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) executive director Karamat Ali told The Express Tribune that the owners and managers of Ali Enterprises, the factory in which hundreds of people lost their lives, have been intimidating the witnesses and the workers for a while. The purpose of these threats is to pressurise people into agreeing to drop murder charges against the owners.

“Even from inside the jail, the Bhaila brothers had been giving directions to their men to threaten the people to move back from the case,” said Ali. “Now that they are out of prison, we expect an increase in their dirty activities.”
read more.
tribune

* Improperly framed FIR backfires:

In Pakistan today hardly any perpetrators of crime have been caught or convicted. The criminal negligence of the owners and authorities alike is highlighted by the horrible incident at Ali Enterprises – the textile factory which was burnt to ashes on September 11, 2012 in Baldia Town. Over 289 people died.

The Sindh police was at its incompetent best while registering an FIR. It charged the owners of the factory with both intentional and unintentional murder. It also charged the owners with burning down their own factory and causing hurt to the head and shoulders of the people. In simpler words, the police registered a case that accused the owners of premeditated and intentional murder of some of its employees whereas other employees were murdered by the owners unintentionally. The police also thought that the owners were crazy enough to burn down their only means of livelihood without any motive.

After weeks of investigation, the police proceeded to file a report in court that maintained the charges against the accused. At this juncture, the prime minister thought that he too should jump into the picture. read more.
tribune

* Owners among four given bail in Baldia factory fire case:

Two factory owners and two of their employees were granted bail on Monday by the Sindh High Court in the case of the Baldia Town factory fire, said to be the country’s worst industrial disaster that killed nearly 259 workers.

A single bench headed by Justice Ghulam Sarwar Korai had on Jan 28 reserved the order on the bail applications of the accused, including Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, after hearing arguments of the applicants’ counsel.

The two owners of the ill-fated Ali Enterprises, represented by Advocate Amir Raza Naqvi, were arrested in the case on Oct 6 when the trial court had rejected their pre-arrest bail pleas. However, their elderly father, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, also an accused in the case, was granted bail on health grounds.

The factory’s production manager, Mansoor Ahmed, was represented by Advocate Khawaja Shamsul Islam, and Advocate Muhammad Tamaz Khan appeared on behalf of the accused watchman of the factory, Arshad Mehmood. read more.
dawn

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20130213

* Incomplete preparations: Baldia fire victims’ burial delayed:

The mass burial of the remaining unidentified bodies of the Baldia factory fire has been delayed, a spokesperson for the Edhi Foundation Anwar Kazmi told The Express Tribune.

Last week, the provincial health minister, Dr Sagheer Ahmed, had announced that the remaining 17 unidentified bodies of the Baldia fire would be buried on Sunday. However, the officials failed to make any arrangements for the funeral which led to the delay.
“The authorities didn’t get back to me and the burial has been delayed,” he said. “I’m waiting for the clearance.” More than 250 people had died in the Baldia inferno out of which 17 unidentified bodies had been lying at the Edhi morgue since last September. to read.
tribune

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20130214

* A mass burial for the factory fire’s remaining victims:

Riaz Ahmad, 32, was a machine operator at Ali Enterprises, a garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city.

Ali Enterprises was major supplier of German discount clothing retailer Kik for ready-to-wear garments.
Riaz used to work the morning shift. On September 11, 2012 he left his house at 8:30 in the morning and promised his wife to come back by 4:30 in the afternoon.

It was raining heavily that day and he just overstayed at the factory. He made a last call to his wife at 5:45 p.m.
“He was coughing and told me that the factory was on fire. ‘There is no way to get out. If I don’t return, take good care of my children.’ This was last time I heard his voice,” said Riaz’s 30-year-old wife, Nazia Perveen.

Riaz Ahmad was among the 252 victims (the official estimate) who died in the Ali Enterprises factory fire on September 11, 2012, one of Pakistan’s worst industrial disasters in history.
However, Riaz’s family is among those 24 that haven’t yet received the corpses of their loved ones.
So far, 17 bodies are still placed at the Edhi morgue in Karachi, and despite conducting the DNA test three times, those bodies have not been identified yet.
read more.
EQUALTIMES

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20130215

* Families urge court to allow mass burial of 21 unidentified bodies:

 As the police drop key murder charges against the owners of the Baldia factory and modern technology fails to determine the identity of 21 victims even though five months have passed, their relatives have finally agreed on a mass burial.

The families of 21 labourers whose bodies were charred beyond recognition in the country’s worst industrial fire have sought an order from the court to carry out the last rites of their loved ones.
The families presented a request for permission for mass burial to the Sindh High Court. The court is already hearing identical petitions for a judicial inquiry into the tragic incident.

According to the official record, 259 workers were burnt alive when the ISO-certified Ali Enterprises in Baldia town caught fire on September 11, 2012. Nearly 21 bodies remain unidentified as the DNA tests have failed. The court has given repeated orders for the authorities to expedite the process. read more.
tribune

* SHC says no to mass burial:

Declining a plea to allow mass burial of the unidentified victims of the Baldia factory fire, the Sindh High Court has summoned the project director of the National Forensic Science Agency to appear personally and explain delays in identifying the bodies on February 20.

“We find it hard to express ourselves,” remarked Justice Maqbool Baqir, who headed the bench while hearing a petition seeking a judicial probe into the worst industrial disaster in which at least 259 workers were killed on September 11, 2012.
The relatives of 21 workers, who are believed to have been killed in fire but whose charred bodies remain unidentified, had gone to court.

Khurram Ahmed, representing one of the bereaved families, requested the judges to direct the authorities to hand over the unidentified bodies to the families for a “collective burial”.
The two judges declined the request. “We have been told that 17 bodies of the victims have still not been identified.”
“We, therefore, find it difficult to order handing over the bodies as the legal heirs of other victims may not agree to such an order,” they added.  read more.
tribune

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20130216

* SHC seeks explanation from forensic expert, police:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday ordered the director of the National Forensic Science Agency (NFSA) and a police official to appear before the court with progress reports on their efforts to identify the bodies of 21 Baldia factory fire victims.

The court was hearing the applications of 21 bereaved family members of the Baldia factory fire victims, who sought last rituals and a collective burial for their loved ones who lost their lives in the inferno on September 11 last year.
The bodies of the 21 workers of the ill-fated factory, Ali Enterprises, could not be identified despite the lapse of six months and repeated directives of the SHC that ordered the police to conduct DNA tests of the unidentified bodies. read more.
thenewspk

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20130217

* Court asked to decide on charges:

To guard against interference in the ongoing trial of the country’s worst industrial disaster, the Sindh High Court has told the concerned trial court to decide on the police’s report for dropping key murder charges against the Baldia garment factory owners was strictly in accordance with the law.

This order came in response to petitions by several workers and human rights groups, which accused Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf of interfering in the trial.
The organisations had gone to the court against PM Ashraf and the police, for their alleged attempts to save the owners of the Ali Enterprises.  to read.
tribune

* Hearing of bail pleas put off till 23rd:

A sessions court on Saturday sought exact record of the charges against the Baldia factory fire case accused and adjourned the hearing of their bail applications till February 23.

Additional District and Sessions Judge (West) Abdullah Channa is hearing the bail pleas of five accused Amjad Ali, Fazal Ahmed, Abdur Rasheed Solangi, Zahid and Ghulam Akbar.

When the hearing of Baldia factory fire case resumed on Saturday, the court noted that the copies of charges were not placed on the record and issued directives to fulfill the legalities of the matter and present exact record of the charges against the accused.

In their bail applications, the under detention accused have taken the plea that they had no involvement in the case and false allegations were foisted on them.
read more.
thenewspk

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20130221

* Last rites: Court allows Baldia fire bodies to be buried:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday finally allowed the burial of 18 unidentified bodies of the Baldia factory fire victims, but ordered the national forensic science laboratory’s project director to complete DNA matching process within 20 days.

Nearly 259 workers were burnt in the country’s worst industrial disaster, when a huge fire reduced the Ali Enterprises to ashes on September 11, 2012. Many bodies were charred beyond recognition.
As the repeated DNA tests failed to determine the identities of all the victims, the bereaved families went to court seeking permission for mass burial.

“Six months have passed, but the officials have failed to establish the identities of our loved ones despite the fact that DNA samples have been obtained at least thrice,” they told the judges on Wednesday. read more.
tribune

* SHC orders burial of 17 unidentifiable Baldia fire victims:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday ordered authorities to make arrangements for burials of 17 unidentifiable victims of Baldia Town factory fire, awaiting DNA test in the morgue of Edhi center near Sohrab Goth.

Justice Maqbool Baqir heard the Baldia factory fire case. The court was told that it could take more time to complete the process of identification of 17 bodies.
On this, the court ordered that all the bodies should be buried in a sequence now.  Heirs of these bodies say that they were made to go from one place to another to identify their loved ones.
The order, however, would pave the way for provision of compensation to the families of victims.  read more.
thenation

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20130224

* 18 unidentified bodies to be buried:

The bodies of 18 unidentified people, who died during a deadly fire at a factory in Baldia Town area of Karachi, last year, would be buried today (Sunday).

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on February 20, 2013 ordered authorities to make arrangements for burials of 18 unidentifiable victims of Baldia Town factory fire, awaiting DNA test in the morgue of Edhi center near Sohrab Goth.
According to Deputy Commissioner of the city, the bodies would be buried at Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) graveyard in the city.

He further said that all arrangements have been made and the burial would definitely take place on scheduled time.
Garment factories in Karachi caught fire on 11 September 2012. The fires occurred in a textile factory in the western part of Karachi. The fires are considered to be the most deadly and worst industrial factory fires in Pakistan’s history, killing 315 people and seriously injuring more than 250 others.
to read. & to read. & to read. & read more.
PAKOBSERVER  pakTODAY thenewspk 

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20130225

* Five months on, 17 unidentified workers laid to rest:

Five months after an inferno engulfed the garment factory in Baldia, the remains of 17 unidentified workers were buried in KMC Graveyard amid tears and hopes that such an incident won’t happen again.

A deadly fire swept through the factory in September last year, killing over 258 employees in one of the world’s deadliest industrial disasters. No one knows for sure how the fire started and why so many people were trapped inside.
On Sunday, hundreds of people, including the owners of Ali Enterprises, which ran the factory, attended the funeral at Akhbar Shaheed Ground in Baldia Town.

The mass burial took place with the permission of the victims’ families, in compliance with the orders of the Sindh High Court. All the bodies and remains were charred beyond recognition. Several attempts to match DNA samples of the victims with that of family members failed.
“The saddest part is all these bodies have remained unclaimed,” said Nasir Mansoor, a social activist who is working closely with the families.
read more. & read more.
tribune  dawn

* Hoping for closure, families bury unidentified dead:

20130225 THENEWS

Five months after the Baldia factory blaze, the bodies of 17 unidentified victims were buried at the KMC graveyard near the Hub River Road on Sunday.

According to court orders, government officials had allotted a serial number to every body at the Edhi morgue so that when the DNA reports arrived, they could be identified. But the DNA reports never arrived.
“Seventeen coffins contain bodies. And one only body parts,” said Anwar Kazmi of the Edhi Foundation as volunteers put the sealed coffins in ambulances.

The coffins were taken to a ground in Baldia Town for the funeral rites and then to the government graveyard for burial.
The victims’ graves do not have tombstones with their names, but the serial numbers they were allotted.
The burial could have been carried out months ago if only the government had paid a little attention to the crisis, said Abdul Sattar Edhi, the founder of the Edhi Foundation.
read more. & read more.
thenewspk

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20130228

* No bodies, no compensation for heirs:

Several months have passed since the fire erupted at the garment factory in Baldia Town, but dozens of families are still waiting for the victims’ bodies as well as for the compensation amounting to Rs900,000 for each victim’s family.

There are still 23 legal heirs of the victims who have not been compensated because their DNA samples did not match the bodies that were recently buried.
Nazia Parveen is one such legal heir. She is the widow of Riaz Ahmed and the sister of Rafaqat Ali. Ahmed and Ali both lost their lives in the fire at Ali Enterprises, the garment factory.

However, despite providing DNA samples thrice, she was not handed over her husband’s body and is yet to be compensated as well.
Parveen, along with other heirs of the victims, had recently staged a demonstration in front of the Sindh Assembly to demand the victims’ bodies and compensation.
read more.
thenewspk

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20130306

* Deadline extended: Baldia applications will be received till March 9:

The compensation commission has extended the last date by which relatives of Baldia factory fire victims can file for claims till March 9.

The commission, which had been formed by Sindh High Court on January 29 to distribute the money pledged by the government and a foreign firm among the families of the victims, had initially set March 5 as the deadline for submission of compensation claims.

“The commission has decided to extend the deadline because they have only received 80 applications so far,” explained an official from the organisation.

Around 259 people passed away in the fire which reduced Ali Enterprises to ashes on September 11, 2012. The fire was termed the worst industrial incident in the history of the country and several international suppliers of the company pledged support for the families and survivors. The unidentified victims were recently buried.
to read.
The Express Tribune

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20130313

* Baldia factory fire case: SHC gives one week to identify charred bodies:

The Sindh High Court has yet again ordered the National Forensic Science Agency and others concerned to submit a report regarding the identities of the seventeen workers of the Baldia garments factory, whose bodies were charred beyond recognition in the fire.

Nearly 259 workers were burnt in the country’s worst industrial disaster, when a huge fire reduced the Ali Enterprises to ashes on September 11, 2012. As the repeated DNA tests failed to determine the identities of the victims, the bereaved families had gone to court seeking permission for mass burial.

The judges on February 20 allowed the bereaved families to perform last rites and bury the seventeen unidentified bodies to end the mental torture and agony the families had been going through for the past six months.

Meanwhile, the laboratory’s project director was directed to expedite DNA matching process by drawing fresh samples and submit report by March 11. On Tuesday, the advocate general Abdul Fattah Malik said that while the unidentified bodies were buried following permission granted by the court, none of the relatives of the victims had come forward to pursue DNA testing, thus their identification has yet to be determined.  read more.
The Express Tribune

* SHC wants DNA test reports in seven days:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed police and the National Forensic Science Agency on Tuesday to submit DNA test reports of 21 unidentified victims of a factory fire within a week.

The directive came at a hearing of identical petitions seeking a judicial inquiry into the Category 3 blaze that killed 289 workers at the garments factory, Ali Enterprises, in Baldia Town on September 11 last year.

In compliance with an injunction, the unidentified victims, who had been burnt beyond recognition in the incident, were buried last month and each grave was allotted a number so as to identify the bodies with the help of DNA tests.  read more.
thenews.com.pk
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20130315

* SHC orders inspection of Baldia garment factory:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday directed the Sindh Building Control Authority and the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate to carry out inspection of the ill-fated Baldia factory so as to ascertain whether it was constructed under the approved building plan or not.

The court observed that the report should reveal the deviation from the relevant laws, particularly the rules and the regulations, and the services of architects and engineers could be obtained in this regard.

Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research and others submitted in the petition that more than 280 people were killed in the fire incident at Ali Enterprises on September 11 last year and the management of Ali Enterprises, including the factory owners, have been booked under murder, mischief by fire and other related charges by the Baldia Town police.  read more.
thenews.com.pk

* Legal action on fire in textile factory in Karachi, Pakistan:

ECCHR involved in Pakistani court proceedings

During a visit to Pakistan by staff members from ECCHR and medico international, individuals affected by the factory fire in September 2012 together with their trade union representatives asked ECCHR to become directly involved in legal proceedings relating to the incident in Pakistan. ECCHR will now make an application through a local lawyer to be admitted to the proceedings.

The Ali Enterprise textile factory in the industrial district of Baldia Town in Karachi burned to the ground on 11 September 2012. Bars on the windows as well as obstructed and locked emergency exits meant that factory workers were unable to escape the blaze in time.
Over 280 employees lost their lives and hundreds were injured. The disaster represents the most devastating fire to occur to date at a Pakistani factory. At least 70% of the textiles produced at the factory were sold to German discount store KIK, according to the retailer’s own information. Just a few weeks before the fire, Italian company RINA had issued the factory with an SA 8000 certificate, which is supposed to act as a guarantee of safety and other workplace standards.

While KIK has come to a preliminary agreement with local Pakistani organizations on the payment of damages, the Italian certification firm RINA has to date not demonstrated any interest in participating in a compensation scheme. The distribution of the compensatory funds offered by KIK is being overseen by an independent commission appointed by the High Court of Sindh.  read more.
ECCHR! EUROPEAN CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS

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20130320

* LHC constitutes commission to address fire safety:

Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah of Lahore High Court has constituted a 20-member fire safety commission to address and identify fire safety issues in the city of Lahore, with special emphasis on industrial sites and high-rise buildings.

The commission will review existing laws, rules, regulations and policies relating to fire safety in buildings. Besides screening and surveying of high-rise buildings, it will review urban planning policies and practices for building safety.
(…)
The commission was constituted while hearing a petition moved by Muhammad Shoaib Saleem through his counsel, Syed Aslam Rizvi, who submitted that there were not enough arrangements of fire fighting and people lack training.
He said that in September 2012, fire in a shoe factory at Bund road left at least 25 labourers dead owing to negligence of the owners and the negligence of the government machinery which deliberately did not ensure fire safety measures at the building. The counsel submitted that in many fire incidents, people lost their lives and the state machinery failed to take safety steps during the construction of the buildings.

He requested that the people responsible for the shoe factory fire should be penalised and the concerned authorities should be directed to take necessary steps so that such an incident does not recur. He also requested that the government should be direted to take measures to protect the lives and properties during the fire incidents.  read more.
Daily Times

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20130327

* Piler deposits $750,000 in account of SHC nazir:

The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) on Tuesday deposited $750,000 in the account of the Sindh High Court nazir on a directive of the SHC commission headed by retired Justice Rahmat Hussain Jafery for distribution among families of the victims of Ali Enterprises.

Piler received the amount from the German garments buyer, KiK Textilien, after it had signed an agreement with the buyer to compensate in cash those affected families who have still not received any compensation from the government or any other source.

Piler through an application had requested the SHC to form a commission for the payment of compensation to the affected families. Subsequently, the commission was constituted and it started functioning by late February. The commission invited applications through newspaper advertisements and currently it is finalising the list of the beneficiaries.  read more.
dawn

* Piler deposits $1 million in SHC account for Baldia fire victims:

The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) deposited $1million received from the German garments buyer KiK Textilien to the account of the Nazir of the Sindh High Court (SHC), based on the directives of commission headed by Justice (retd) Rahmat Hussain Jafery to distribute among the families of the victims of Ali Enterprises.

Piler had signed an agreement with the German buyer to provide cash for those affected families who were yet to receive any compensation from the government or any other source.

Piler, through an application, requested the SHC to form a commission for the distribution of compensation among the affected families. As a result, the SHC formed the commission, which started functioning by late February. read more.
thenews.com.pk

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20130416

* Pleas for help months after Pakistan fire:

Many families still wait for compensation money promised by government after factory blaze that killed 259.t has been more than six months since 259 people were killed in a garment factory fire in the Pakistani city of Karachi.

The government has promised to prosecute those who are responsible, and pay compensation to victims’ families.
But many families, who survived the country’s worst industrial accident, are still waiting the money from government.
Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab reports from Karachi.  see Video.
aljazeera

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20130503

* Heirs of 23 victims yet to get compensation:

The heirs of some 23 victims of Baldia factory fire tragedy, whose bodies could not be recovered, are still facing difficulties in obtaining their death certificates and receiving the government-announced financial compensation, thus further compounding their socio-economic problems.

The heirs of such victims of Ali Enterprise inferno of September 11 last year narrated their ordeal at a media briefing arranged by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research (Piler) and the Labour Education Foundation in connection with the International Labour Day on Wednesday.  read more.
thenews.com.pk

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20130721

* European lawyers fight for Baldia fire compensation:

As the bereaved families of the Baldia factory fire lose hope of getting justice for losing over 250 relatives in the country’s worst industrial disaster, the legal eagles of Italy, France and Spain are eyeing the international certifying body to determine its role in the tragedy.

The legion of lawyers – Stefano Bertone, Marco Bona, Jean-Pierre Bellecave and Carlos Villacorta – who have successfully won compensation for the survivors of at least 40 aviation disasters, plan to sue an Italy-based firm, Rina Services, which had declared that the international standards for workers were enforced at Ali Enterprises.

In August 2012, Rina Services had certified Ali Enterprises and the factory under the SA-8000 standard after an audit, which started on June 22, that year and was completed by July 5. A 10-member team spent the same number of days on the site and issued a certificate on August 20.

Twenty-one days later, a massive fire swept through the double-storey building of the garment factory, killing at least 259 workers in Baldia industrial area on September 11. “We don’t know what ignited the fire…but we understand that it was a cage not a place of work,” claimed Bertone, an Italian lawyer, during a visit to Karachi. “The Baldia factory looked like a cage made with cement and iron.”
read more.
tribune

* ‘Compensation should equal the price of what the workers produced’:

The survivors of the Baldia factory fire and the families of the victims have accepted whatever compensation they have received from the federal and provincial governments, the Bhaila brothers and the $1 million contributed by KIK Texilion, one of the major buyers of the products produced at Ali Enterprises until it was gutted.

A commission constituted by the Sindh High Court on the request of the German KIK Texilion has almost disbursed all of the compensation money among the claimants, confirmed the commission’s registrar. The European lawyers’ groups is, however, not satisfied with the amount of money being offered to the survivors and the victims’ legal heirs. “It is not fair that they pay the wrongs with peanuts,” said Marco Bona.

They say that the only purpose of taking Rina to the Italian courts is get the victims’ families a handsome amount in compensation, which is at least in proportion to the value of the products produced by the deceased workers in the European market.
read more.
tribune
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20130907

* Call to make public findings of Baldia fire probe:

A panel of speakers representing the Pakistan Institute of Labour Union and Research and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has demanded that the inquiry report of the Baldia factory fire be made public.

Speaking at the Karachi Press Club on Friday, Asad Iqbal Butt of the HRCP said that the people held responsible in the inquiry report compiled by retired Justice Zahid Kurban Alavi be prosecuted and punished.

“The report was handed over to the chief minister of Sindh a long time ago. We demand and urge the government of Sindh to stop appeasing those responsible for the disaster,” said Mr Butt while reading out from a paper.

The Baldia factory fire is a worst such incident in the history of Pakistan that killed more than 250 people. For months after the incident families kept standing outside the Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth to identify their family members.

Speaking at the press conference, deputy general secretary of National Trade Union Federation Nasir Mansoor said that even a year after the incident factories in and around SITE still operated unchecked.
read more.
DAWNnew

*  Unionists demands: ‘Govt should reveal report on Baldia factory fire’:

The government should reveal the report of Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Alavi’s commission on the Baldia factory fire, demanded trade unionists and members of the civil society on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference at Karachi Press Club, the speakers stressed the need provide justice to the factory workers by ensuring their health and safety at industrial and commercial establishments. They demanded penal action against  of those who were held responsible for the incident by the judicial commission in its report.

Pakistan Workers Confederation general secretary Noor Muhammad said that the labour movement of Karachi has chalked out a number of programmes to observe the first anniversary of the fire incident that occurred last year, when nearly 256 workers had lost lives and 55 were injured.

“To mark the anniversary, on the evening of September 10, a memorial vigil would be held, where the trade unionists and civil society activists, members of the victims’ families would gather at the site of the factory and observe one-minute silence,” he said.
to read.

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20130908

* Call for making Justice Alavi’s report public:

Trade union leaders and civil society activists on Friday demanded of the government to make public the report of a judicial commission on a Baldia garments factory fire that killed over 250 people on September 11 last year.

The also urged the government to provide justice to the victims of the deadly blaze that destroyed the factory, Ali Enterprises, Baldia Town, and take those responsible to task.

Speaking at a joint press conference at the Karachi Press Club, the leaders of trade unions and human rights organisations deplored that even after the passage of one year, the accused, including the factory owners and officials of the labour department and other relevant government departments, were free.
read more.
thenewspk
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20130910

* Baldia factory fire: ‘Buyers, inspectors equally responsible for catastrophe’:

20130910 TRIBUNE
RINA, the firm that had issued a safety certificate to Ali Enterprises, have also issued the certificates to a hundred other factories. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Partly blaming the factory owners and government officials for last year’s Baldia factory fire incident which claimed more than 250 lives, the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) has held international buyers, auditors, as well as, the safety inspection firms responsible for the catastrophe.

“Merely 10 days before the fire incident, RINA, an international firm, had issued a safety certificate to the factory, and they are as much to blame for the incident as the others,” said Nasir Mansoor, the central deputy general secretary of the NTUF. “What is more surprising is that they have also issued safety certificates to a hundred other factories in the city. We demand that these factories’ names be made public.”

Mansoor also lashed out at the international buyers who ignored the pathetic working conditions of the labourers, calling them murderers. “We are in quite a dilemma here. If we raise our voice for these workers, the contracts of the international companies might be cancelled and these labourers will end up unemployed,” he said.

To mark the first anniversary of the Baldia incident falling on September 11, the trade unionists gathered on Monday at the Karachi Press Club to release their own findings of the country’s worst industrial incident.Mansoor said that the electric gate of the factory had resulted in many of the casualties as people were not able to evacuate the premises. “The windows of the factory had been reinforced with iron grills and there was no escape for the workers. There were no exit points!”
read more.

* ‘Owners told workers to salvage goods’:

New report by labour activists claims the factory’s main gate and emergency gates were locked on the instructions of factory management

Two days before the anniversary of the tragic Baldia factory fire, a research report has put the blame of the enormous death toll on the owners, claiming that they had ordered the staff to salvage goods instead of allowing them to escape.

On September 11 last year, at least 257 workers were burnt alive when the Ali Enterprises garment factory caught fire.On Monday, the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) made its report public on the country’s worst-ever industrial disaster at the Karachi Press Club. Jalil Shah and Zehra Akbar Khan among other workers’ representatives were also present as the NTUF deputy general secretary shared the study with the media.

The owners, Nasir Mansoor said, thought it was a minor fire incident and ordered the staff to first salvage the material, machinery and finished products.The workers, who were interviewed for the study, confirmed that the emergency gates and the main electric gate were locked on the instructions of the factory management. All windows were already blocked permanently with iron grilles to stop the theft of merchandise.

More than 500 workers, including women and children, were inside the premises when the fire broke out at around 6pm on the first floor where all the supplies, including inflammable chemicals and materials, were stored.

The factory employed approximately 2,000 workers in different shifts in its 16 sections. Many workers, who were off-duty on the fateful day, were also inside the factory as it was the pay day. The majority of the victims were aged between 15 and 35 years.
read more.
thenewspk

* One year after Baldia fire:

20130910 TRIBUNE BaldiafactoryfirePHOTOFILE

Over the last year, accidents in garment factories in Pakistan and Bangladesh have exposed not only the hazardous conditions in which garment industry workers toil, but also the human price of cheap clothes sold in Western capitals.

The list begins with the fatal accident at Ali Enterprises, situated in Karachi’s Baldia Town. On Sept 11 last year, a fire swept through the factory, killing over 250 workers. In November 2012 in Bangladesh, a fire at Tazreen Fashion killed over 100 people.

In April this year, also in Bangladesh, more than 1,000 workers perished when Rana Plaza, housing several garment factories, collapsed. This is reckoned as the worst industrial accident since 1984’s Bhopal tragedy in India.

Together, these headline-grabbing tragedies highlight the wretched, slave-like conditions in which employees are forced to work to feed the insatiable demand for global clothing brands.

From the rubble of the Baldia factory were found, among others, labels of German clothes retailer KiK, which has admitted it was a major bulk buyer of Ali Enterprises’ products since 2007. In Bangladesh, given its large garment industry, labels of various major high street retailers were found.

These tragedies also highlight a number of emerging trends in the growing global garments industry in relation to working conditions, workplace safety, labour rights and transparency of supply chains.
read more.
DAWNnew

* Baldia factory fire tragedy: NTUF demands compensation for affected workers as per international standards:

20130909 DAILYMESSENGER5.Baldia-factory-fire-tragedy

National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) here Monday issued a report on tragic Ali Enterprises garment factory fire in Karachi.

The report titled Death Chamber: A tragedy on 9/11, 2012 in Pakistan written by Zehra Khan was launched at the Karachi Press Club (KCP).
The report says September 11, 2012 was one of the darkest days in the history of labor movement in Pakistan and it was also the deadliest disaster not only in textile sector but all industrial sector of the world.
On the day fire was broke out in Ali Enterprises, a garment factory in SITE area, Karachi in which 257 workers died within small spine of time. The main cause of these deaths was unprotected working environment. Many of the stranded workers died of suffocation as they were trapped in a factory with no emergency exits available.

The report said it was not the first incident of its kind but every day such workplace mishaps are reported albeit on smaller scale, which mostly go unnoticed. There are factories and commercial establishments, spread all over the country, having same horrible working conditions, posing potential threats to the lives of about 60million Pakistani workers.
read more.
DAILYMESSENGER

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20130911

* Victim families’ hope for justice fading away:

“I stopped inquiring about the investigation into the Baldia factory fire the day the owners were given bail on court orders,” says Sharifa Memon who lost her 23-year-old son, Shahbaz Memon, in the blaze exactly a year ago.

Many people say that if the authorities had shown a bit of “persistence” in saving the lives of people trapped inside, it would have made a huge difference.
“At least I would have been satisfied today to know that someone was as concerned as I was to save my family,” adds Ms Memon.

Baldia factory fire, considered to be the country’s worst industrial incident, killed more than 250 people and injured many others on Sept 11, 2012.

Families were understandably distraught to find their loved ones trapped inside the blazing factory for hours on end, while firefighters wrestled with hosepipes to douse the blaze. Ali Enterprise, the garment factory in Baldia Town, SITE, stands as a stark reminder of the nightmarish incident. For many it is a bitter reminder of how inadequacy is considered a norm, worth more than saving a life.
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DAWNnew

* Minor heirs to receive compensation with added profit:

20130911 TRIBUNE Baldia
The sewing floor of the garment factory was charred in the fire that took the lives of over 250 workers. Even though there is a fire extinguisher, the factory lacked proper fire exits. PHOTO: FILE

Several of the heirs of the Baldia fire victims are minors so the compensation they deserve will lie with the high court until they turn 18 years old.

An official of Sindh High Court will invest the money in profit schemes so when the children turn 18, they will receive their original compensation plus the profits it would have earned by then, according to an official of the commission formed by the high court in January this year. This commission worked under the supervision of Justice (retd) Rehmat Hussain Jaffery to disburse the money donated by the owners of Ali Enterprises, its German-based buyer KIK-Textilien and a local philanthropist.

“Many cheques have been deposited with the SHC Nazir because the legal heirs of many victims are minor,” the official told The Express Tribune, adding that the money will be disbursed when they come of age. “Till then the court’s Nazir would invest this money in profit schemes, and would return the increased amount with profit.”
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* Families of the Baldia fire victims move on with their lives but with a heavy heart:

Abdul Ghani aka Babar felt very alone in the world after his wife was burnt to death in the Baldia factory fire on September 11 last year, where more than 250 factory workers died.

Nasreen, his wife, left behind their daughters – six-month-old Zainab and a four-year-old Muqaddas – and they are the reason why the 33-year-old single parent let go of his depression and decided to live for them.

“For three months I did not sleep,” Babar admitted. “Every day I prayed to God and wished for death. I wanted to die.” One day, he realised, however, that there was no one else to take care of his daughters. “I realised that I could not leave them to die.” For the little ones, Babar became a mother, fought for his wife’s compensation money and battled with those who were greedily eyeing the money.
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* Candlelight vigil marks first anniversary of factory fire:

Emotions ran high as a large number of people held a candlelight vigil outside the gutted Ali Enterprises garment factory in Baldia Town to mark the first anniversary of the deadly blaze.

Labour leaders, families of the deceased workers, trade union members and civil society activists took part in a candlelight vigil on Tuesday to commemorate the victims of the worst-ever industrial disaster of the country.
Touching scenes were witnessed as the victims’ families, including women, children and relatives, remembered their loved ones.

Carrying banners and placards, the people shouted slogans demanding bringing the culprits to justice. They also called for providing health and safety facilities at all workplaces and initiation of factory inspections of all the factories in Pakistan.
A large number of workers of the nearby factories also took part in the candlelight vigil and paid tribute to the victims.
A one-minute moment of silence was also observed on the occasion.

CCC expresses solidarity
An international labour rights organisation has expressed solidarity with the families of the victims of the tragic Baldia factory fire on the first anniversary of the deadly blaze, which left at least 257 people dead.
Since 1989, the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) has been dedicated to improving working conditions and supporting the empowerment of workers in the global garment and sportswear industries.
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thenewspk

* A year on, no consolation for families of the missing dead :

A year on, Shahida Akmal, 33, has still not been able to find her husband. Not only did she lose her beloved spouse, she cannot claim the promised compensation also as she cannot identify his body. Muhammad Akmal, 30, died on September 11 last year in the worst industrial fire of the country, which destroyed the Ali Enterprise garment factory in Baldia Town. Among the dead were 256 others.Akmal’s body was burnt beyond recognition, says Shahida. The government asked for a DNA identification test of which she never got the results.
Be it the lack of diagnostic facilities of the government’s mismanagement, the DNA reports of 25 aggrieved families are still pending. Without the results, they cannot obtain a death certificate, and hence the compensation promised by government and social welfare organisations.
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thenewspk

* Safety rules on paper still pending in action:

The fire at Ali Enterprises in SITE, which caused deaths of more than 250 workers, was a wake-up call for all the departments tasked with looking after the implementation of labour and fire safety laws in factories. It appears, however, that the impact was not enough as factories in the area are still operating in violation of the parameters laid down by the law, The Express Tribune has learnt.

According to an official of the fire department, hundreds of factories in SITE were still operating in worse conditions that Ali Enterprises in terms of fire safety and other emergency measures. “Different types of highly inflammable chemicals are kept together while no visible measures for fire safety are taken in these factories, which could lead to more casualties in case a fire breaks out,” said the official on the condition of anonymity.
He added that experts of the fire department are not authorised to enter the factories without cause. “Most of the factories have no fire exits, ventilation, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, fire alarms, and no concept of training their workers for emergencies. There aren’t even water storages for the fire tenders of the fire brigade to douse fire.”

In his opinion, there should be fire drills every month similar to those conducted by reputed textile companies. “If you can install a factory worth Rs500 million then why can’t you spend Rs500,000 on a good fire safety system which can save the whole structure as well as lives of the employees?”
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* Still awaiting compensation in Pakistan: one year after Ali Enterprises burnt down:

Tomorrow German cost-cutter KiK discusses compensation for the victims of the collapse at Rana Plaza during the meeting in Geneva.

Meanwhile, survivors of the fire at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan, still await full, long-term and fair compensation. German retailer KiK remains the only known buyer of Ali Enterprises garments.

  • Families of  more then 250 workers killed during fire still awaiting full and long-term compensation
  • Brands and auditing organisations called on to take responsibility for garment factory fire.

Today one year ago, when the fire broke out during the late shift, the workers were sewing jeans for KiK, which were left strewn around the debris. The fire killed more then 250 people and left many injured.

Investigations into the fire found that workers were trapped inside the overcrowded factory by blocked exits and barred windows. Yet, just weeks before auditors from RINA, an Italian audit company contracted by the Social Accountability Acreditation Services SAAS, visited that factory and awarded it an SA8000 certificate.
The SA8000 system, run by Social Accountability International (SAI) is supposed to ascertain that workplaces meet international labour standards and local laws, including on fire and building safety.

An investigation carried out into the audit failings showed that fire safety certificates collected by auditors had been issued by an entirely fictitious company. Auditors failed to notice an entire mezzanine floor where many contract workers were employed. Another auditing company UL Responsible Sourcing also audited the factory in 2011 and 2007.

In December 2012, following sustained public pressure, Kik signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Pakistani workers’ rights organization Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research (PILER), in which they agreed to pay one million US dollars in emergency relief. Most of this has now been distributed to families through a commission established by the Sindh High Court. According to the December MoU the amount paid by Kik is not payment in full, and will be subtracted from the final compensation agreed upon.
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Site

* One Year Later, Remembering Ali Enterprises:

Today, September 11th, we commemorate multiple tragedies. It is not only the anniversary of the fall of the Twin Towers but also the one year anniversary of the Ali Enterprises fire in Karachi, Pakistan.

The fire, which claimed the lives of 262 workers, was the deadliest factory fire in world history. The subsequent garment sector disasters that have occurred over the past year have continued to highlight the results of greed and criminal negligence that endanger workers in South Asia’s garment industry.

In addition to making jeans for KIK, workers interviewed by the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan documented that Ali Enterprises factory also contracted with brands like Diesel and Go Blue. Sales revenues prior to the fire were estimated to be between 50 to 100 million USD a year but that money was hardly reflected in workers’ paychecks or in investments in preventative safety measures.

Ali Enterprises was an unregistered, illegally functioning factory with an unapproved building design and missing onsite fire-fighting equipment and an emergency alarm system.
Workers reported that the factory employed children and that all workers were employed under an illegal third-party contract system. Workers were not unionized and thus had no collective bargaining power to push for better working conditions.
(….)
What relief victims and their families have received has been won by local and international activists. For the anniversary of the fire, NTUF has organized demonstrations in Karachi, Hyderabad, Islamabad, Lahore and Multan with the hopes of revitalizing the issue of working conditions in Pakistan. This tragedy, says NTUF, “has now changed into a new symbol of a workers’ resistance movement which would help the factory workers to secure the right of having a decent working environment and to get rid of social injustice and the prevailing norm of low wage slavery which characterizes crony capitalism.”

Looking ahead, NTUF recommends that:

  1. Appointment letters be given to workers at the time of their appointment.
  2. Safety and protection measures according to international and national labour law must be observed in the workplace and the government should ratify ILO convention of occupational safety and health (OSH).
  3. Electric gates in factories be banned.
  4. Factory buildings be certified by the building authorities.
  5. Training be required for workers regarding labour lawsa and health and safety at workplace.
  6. Serious strategies be developed to initiate the process of forming workers’ representative unions in factories.
  7. Efficient labour inspection mechanisms be developed.
  8. Workers be registered with social security institutions, Employees Old Age Benefits Institution and Workers Welfare Board at the time of their employment.
  9. Laws to register the factories under Factories Act 1934 be observed.
  10. Minimum wages be increased according to the inflation rate

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20130912

* First anniversary of Baldia factory fire incident observed:

The first anniversary of Baldia factory fire incident, which caused death of over 250 workers of Ali Enterprises in SITE Karachi was observed here in a modest way amid the law and order situation on a strike in the city on Wednesday.

International solidarity from European trade unions and academicians has been expressed with Pakistan workers on the anniversary.

The trade union leaders and civil society activists led by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research had planned a number of programmes including a major anniversary reference at Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi where families of the victims were to attend a memorial reference/seminar.
Trade union leaders, human rights activists and civil society members were invited to attend the seminar to pay homage to the workers. A theatre by young artists of Karachi was also part of the reference. Noted singer Jawad Ahmed had also arrived in the city to take part in the function and present his songs in solidarity with the deceased workers.

On Tuesday evening, a vigil was held outside the burnt building of Ali Enterprises in Baldia town, where besides worker’s families members a large number of civil society activists had participated.

Besides in Pakistan the victim workers also received international solidarity. The international organisation Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), which has taken up the issue of workers & health and safety conditions at Pakistani workplaces at Europe Union level has sent a solidarity message to Pakistan’s trade union movement.

“Our hearts and minds are with you at this time of remembrance,” the CCC statement said. It is one year since the terrible fire killed and injured so many workers. They were sewing jeans for the German retailer KIK. This fire wasn´t just an accident; It was preventable and caused by terrible negligence of the owner of the factory, as well as the government, the buyer KIK and the auditing companies who declared the factory was safe. As we know, the factory was fatally unsafe and too many people had their lives torn apart for the sake of producing as cheap as possible.
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PAKOBSERVER

* One year after the Baldia inferno:

It has been a year since that terrible fire at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town, which killed at least 289 people, almost all of them labourers, at the factory unit.

Smoke inhalation and the stampede that broke out in the building were the main causes of the deaths, with not enough fire exits present at the premises. Families of victims continue to suffer. Compensation given out cannot make up for the permanent loss of a wage-earner, or the grief death inflicts, especially when it comes in such terrible form.

It is also shocking that, even so long after the event, charges have still to be framed against the owner of the factory.
This act of negligence is simply inexcusable.
What is also unacceptable is the fact that we seem to have learned no lessons from that blaze and the aftermath of charred bodies it left behind.
Even today, factories across the country remain as dangerous as ever, with no safety measures in place at many of them to guard either against fire or other hazards.
Pakistan, as a country with one of the largest labour forces in the world, given the size of its population, needs to work urgently to remedy the situation.
For this purpose, it must ratify the International Labour Organisation conventions that it has still to put its signatures to, and perhaps, still more importantly, ensure that existing labour rules are enforced.
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* Baldia factory fire: ‘A year gone by, govt yet to take measures’:

20130912 TRIBUNE
Trade unionists and members of the NTUF convened a rally outside the Karachi Press Club to express their solidarity with the victims of the Baldia factory fire incident on Wednesday. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/ EXPRESS

Trade unionists and labour leaders have demanded that the premises of Ali Enterprises be converted into a memorial site for the labourers who lost their lives in the fire incident on September 11, last year. Moreover, they appealed to the government to immediately register all operational factories to avoid such incidents in the future.

Holding placards and banners, the labourers and trade union leaders, under the umbrella of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), convened a rally outside the Karachi Press Club to express their solidarity with the families of the Baldia factory fire victims and to mark the first anniversary of the worst industrial accident of the country.

“The factories are like a live bomb and no one cares about the consequences. I am afraid that the products produced by these factories will cease to be accepted in the international market because of the violation of labour laws,” lamented the NTUF Deputy Secretary Nasir Mansoor. He said that the factories’ owners should step forward for their factories and take positive steps for the safety for the workers

Pakistan Workers Confederation Sindh president Jaleel Shah told The Express Tribune that the federal and provincial governments had not yet implemented the order of Rs10,000 as minimum wage and the factories had not received the notification in this regard though the minimum wages were raised in the budget.
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* Labour leaders seek measures for safety of workers at factories:

The National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) held a protest demonstration at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Wednesday in connection with the first anniversary of the fire tragedy at the garment factory, Ali Enterprises, demanding from the authorities to declare the site of the burnt factory as the monument of hundreds of martyred workers.

Despite worsening law and order situation in the metropolis hundreds of workers, including women, participated in the demonstration.

September 11, 2012 was one of the darkest days in the history of labour movement in Pakistan when a deadly fire broke out at Ali Enterprises, a garment factory in SITE area, killing 257 workers within a short span of time.

The workers’ representatives paid glowing tributes to the martyred workers and expressed commitment not to let their sacrifices go unnoticed.
They asked the government to ensure holding effective labour inspections under the Factory Act so as to avoid such incidents in future.
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thenewspk
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20130915

* Woman asks ex-husband to give due share of compensation:

A woman has approached the Sindh High Court for recovery of money from her ex-husband which was paid as compensation over the death of her young son in the Baldia factory fire tragedy.

Farida’s son, Danish, was among those workers who perished in the fire at the garment factory, Ali Enterprises, on September 11, 2012.

The federal government, provincial government, factory owners and their foreign buyers had pledged monetary compensation for all the victims and survivors. Thus, a court-appointed commission distributed more than 0.6 million among the legal heirs of each victim. Farida told the judges that her husband, Liaquat Ali, had left her a few years ago. Since then, the children, including Danish, had been living with the mother.

According to her, after Danish’s death, her ex-husband submitted his claim with the compensation commission and received Rs500,000. She claimed that he only gave her one-sixth of the total amount, which is against the Shariah laws according to which a mother is entitled to one-third of the amount.
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tribune
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20130923

* Factory fire: Baldia families remind PM of his promise to pay Rs300,000:

20130922 TRIBUNE
At a seminar on Saturday, the families asked the prime minister to fulfil his promise. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

The families of the Baldia fire victims want to remind Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of his promise to pay Rs300,000 as compensation to each of them.

Sharif made this promise, as the chief of the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz, when he visited the Baldia factory soon after the tragic industrial disaster on September 11, last year, when at least 250 people died.

At a seminar on Saturday, the families asked the prime minister to fulfil his promise. They were speaking at a seminar on Saturday, organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) and trade union committee to mark the first anniversary of the incident at Piler’s office.

The speakers discussed the progress in the compensation process for the victims as the families shared the problems they face in getting their Employees Oldage Benefit Institution (EOBI) pensions, death certificates, death grants from the workers welfare fund and jobs promised by the SITE Association of Industry and Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association to those who lost their jobs in Ali Enterprises.
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tribune

* Baldia factory fire victims still yearning for compensation:

In connection with the first anniversary of the worst-ever factory fire incident of the country in Baldia, SITE, the members of victims’ families, and representatives of trade unions and civil society reminded Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday to fulfill his commitment of providing compensation to the victims’ families. The PML-N chief had made this commitment at the time of his visit to the ill-fated factory last year.

They were speaking at a seminar held in connection with the first anniversary of the inferno at Ali Enterprises in Baldia Town on September 11, 2012, which was jointly organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and Trade Unions Committee at PILER Centre.
During his visit to Karachi on September 14, 2012, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had announced Rs 300,000 donation for each victim’s family but no money has so far been provided in this regard.

Senior lawyer Faisal Siddiqi, veteran trade unionist Noor Mohammad, Joint Director PILER Zulfiqar Shah, a representative of Indus Valley of School of Art Ammad Tahir, representatives of victims families Nazia and Israr addressed the participants. A catalogue of the products displayed at the exhibition held at Arts Council was also launched on the occasion.

The members of victims’ families and civil society also complained about the non-payment of death grant, which was supposed to be paid by the Workers Welfare Fund (WWF) of the federal government to each affected family.
They said that the Employees Old-age Benefit Institution (EOBI), which has to provide pension to all workers, was providing pension to the victims’ families for only five-year period, whereas pensions should be paid for the life time.
Many families complained about non-provision of EOBI pension to them. Similarly, the meagre amount by Social Security Institution of the Sindh government was also not available for all the families, they said.
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thenewspk

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20131018

* Buying Better:

Whatever your style, unless you’re home-growing your own cotton or buying your full wardrobe from charity shops (including your socks and jocks), you are buying into a supply chain.

One thing most of us are guilty of, stylish or not, is not knowing what happens along this chain. In this green era many believe the sweatshop days have come to an end, and if they haven’t, conditions probably aren’t that bad. Not so. Unfortunately, somewhere someone is paying the price for our high-street bargains.
And after my trip to Pakistan early this year, I’ll be very slow to flaunt my best bargains in public again. 

Just over a year ago on September 11, 2012 in Karachi, Ali Enterprises, a garment factory, caught fire. 300 workers were trapped inside and burned to death.

They were making jeans destined for sale in Europe, by the high-street German brand KIK, at €5 – €15 a pop. On my first day in Pakistan I was brought to see the burnt-out factory. More akin to a cage, every window on the building was fixed with metal bars like you would see in pictures of old prisons. Despite the fact that many victims were burnt beyond recognition, and some bodies never found, the barred windows are still intact.
The fire broke out next to the fabric store on the ground floor. As it spread, it blocked the entrances to the upper floors and the basement. The fire brigade took a long time to arrive and ran out of water at one stage.
Locals from the area brought ladders but the ladders weren’t high enough to reach the higher levels of the building, and even so, they had a hard job trying to remove the bars.
The tragedy is, and was, overwhelming. My stomach churns at the sight of a huge pile of charred jeans lying outside the factory gathering dust, a stark reminder of the price the industry placed on the lives of their workers.

For many, this fire is the tip of the iceberg. Despite the clear pain at reliving the memories, people are happy to share their stories, as they hope by sharing, someone will listen and maybe help. It is now a year since the accident but the families have not been given full, long-term and fair compensation.
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20140304

* Baldia factory fire: no one’s been found guilty 18 months later:

There has been no progress in the criminal case filed against the owners and officials because of one reason or another

Almost 18 months after the tragic Baldia factory fire, there has been no progress in the criminal cases registered against the factory owners.
Due to one reason or another, charges have still not be framed against the accused for the incident that left around 260 workers dead and hundreds more injured on September 11, 2012.

In the latest development, the case investigation officer (IO) has been issued a show cause notice to explain his failure to provide copies of the charge-sheet to the suspects.
In the last hearing, the accused, who were present in the court, were told the IO had yet to come. The hearing was put off and a show cause notice was issued to the officer when he came to the court.

Many say that due to the lethargic role of the IO, the trial is still at an initial stage. Almost all the accused have been granted bail and it is obvious they would plead not guilty as they all consider themselves to be innocent.

Apart from the Ali Enterprises owners, several directors and officials of civic agencies were also found negligent in taking proper safety measures for the factory workers, which ultimately resulted in the worst indusial disaster in the history of Pakistan.
All the allegedly negligent officials have, however, been granted bail, and now the case is fixed for the next date either due to the non-appearance of some accused or the absence of the IO.

The prosecutor, observers say, has failed to play a proactive role in concluding this case that had jolted the then rulers, who made tall claims of providing justice to the poor victims’ families. The leaders left no stone unturned in sympathising with the victims as the case brought a bad name to the country.
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thenewspk

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20140805

* Baldia factory: HR body plans action against foreign firm:

While murder charges against the owners of Ali Enterprises — a garments factory in Baldia Town where hundreds of workers were burnt to death nearly two years ago — have not been dropped so far, they are once again pursuing European markets to sell their product, said the counsel for the victims at a press conference on Monday.

“We’ve recently heard that they have been trying to pursue European markets to sell their products which I think is alarming. We are trying to make sure that no one buys their product or does business with them after what had happened in September 2012,” says Advocate Faisal Siddiqi while speaking at the Karachi Press Club.

The Baldia factory fire, which is considered to be the worst industrial tragedy in the country’s history, had left as many as 259 workers dead and many others injured on Sept 11, 2012.

The lawyer, accompanied by rights activist Karamat Ali, said that murder charges against the factory owners were still there. A former prime minister had given instructions to the chief secretary to withdraw the charges but they had not been withdrawn so far. Bank accounts of the owners are frozen until further orders by a court, he explained, while a list of properties owned by them is also submitted in the high court.

Besides, Mr Siddiqi along with labour rights bodies is considering to pursue a legal case against the German company, KIK, for going back on its words to provide compensation to the victims on a long-term basis. The company, which used to buy 90 per cent of its products from Ali Enterprises until the 2012 blaze, agreed to pay for the compensation to those who died in the fire, the lawyer claimed.

Following the industrial fire and pursuing the KIK management for eight months, labour organisations from across Pakistan, headed by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), had a long meeting with the company’s management. “A Memorandum of Understanding was signed after the meeting,” said Mr Siddiqi. “We decided on three points: firstly, to ensure immediate relief to the families of the victims; secondly, payment of compensation to the families on a long-term basis; and thirdly, strengthening labour rights in Pakistan through collaborative efforts between KIK and labour organisations.”

He said the first phase of the agreement was completed after the KIK issued a cheque for one million dollars and the money was distributed among the families through a judicial commission constituted by the Sindh High Court.

“But it is the second phase of the agreement,” added Mr Siddiqi, “of providing long-term compensation to the families on which the company is behaving evasively. This has also put a question mark over the third phase of the agreement.”

In a copy of the document shared by Piler at the press conference, the company has signed beneath the agreement that says it “is willing to fund another $250,000 in the year 2013” that at present has become a bone of contention between the two groups.
read more.
DAWNnew

* European court to be moved for compensation:

Labour rights organisations have decided to file a case in the European court against the German company that was buying the bulk of the products manufactured at Ali Enterprises – the Baldia-based garments factory, where over 250 workers died in a blaze on September 11, 2012.

Addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Monday, the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) executive director Karamat Ali, senior lawyer Faisal Siddiqui, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Vice-Chairman Asad Iqbal Butt and Lateef Mughal of the People’s Labour Bureau said the organisations would also file a case against RINA, the company which granted safety certification to the ill-fated factory.

The Baldia factory fire was the worst-ever disaster in any industry. There is a growing concern among the trade unions of the world against precarious working conditions in South Asia, as over 1,000 workers also lost their lives in the Rana Plaza collapse in Dhaka, Bangaldesh.

With the second anniversary of the deadly fire approaching, the labour organisations of Europe and South Asia would organise different programmes.

The labour leaders pointed out that the German company KIK had signed an agreement with Piler to provide initial relief and long-term compensation to the affected families of Baldia factory fire.

The company also provided $ 1 million, which were distributed among the victims’ families via the Sindh High Court appointed commission headed by a retired Judge of Supreme Court.
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thenewspk

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20140811

* Families of 2012 factory fire victims struggle for compensation:

Families of the victims of the Baldia factory that was gutted in September 2012 took out a rally, led by the National Trade Union Federation, from the Arts Council traffic intersection to the Karachi Press Club on Sunday.

The main demand of the participants was that the Employees’ Old Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) issue them pension permits.

Mohammad Jabir — father of 22-year-old victim of the Baldia factory fire Mohammad Jahanzaib and scrap dealer in the Shershah Market — is now heading an association formed about a month ago by the families of the fire victims to help them with the compensation process and “to speak for the neglected families”.

Speaking at the rally in the afternoon, surrounded by families of victims at the Arts Council, Mr Jabir said that the EOBI was reluctant to issue pensions as “most of the victims who died in the fire were young and not eligible to get one”.

A mother of one of the victims — 30-year-old Mohammad Ayan — also spoke at the rally. When the woman started to speak she began crying. She said that the families were being ignored by the higher-ups. “Two years after the incident we are left to fend for ourselves,” she added.

Speaking about their demands, Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary of the NTUF, said that at present there were facing “multiple issues” regarding Baldia factory fire victims.

“One is the lifelong payment of compensation to the families. The EOBI is refusing to allow pension for more than five years. We are working to resolve the issue by communicating our reservations with them. We want them to provide a lifelong pension to the families who have lost their breadwinners,” he said.

Speaking further, he said that soon after the tragedy, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and property tycoon Malik Riaz announced compensations for the families — 120 of them. However, they haven’t heard back from them as yet, he added.

“Only a few among the families received compensation, but 120 of them are still waiting,” he added.

Apart from that, the trade union is also planning to file a petition against two international companies — the RINA and the KIK. The former would be sued for issuing a social audit certificate and the latter for not agreeing to pay the long term compensation to the families, he said.

The NTUF also demanded that the government introduce proper protection and safety laws which could be implemented to ensure safety for labourers and factory workers.

As for compensations, the counsel for the victims of the Baldia factory fire, Faisal Siddiqi, had called a press conference along with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) executive director Karamat Ali on the same issue a week ago.
read more.
DAWNnew

* Withholding rights: Families of Baldia fire victims yet to receive compensation:

The compensation amount announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should be paid to the heirs of the Baldia factory fire victims and the Employees Old-Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) should issue life-time pension cards for them, demanded the speakers of a rally.

The rally was jointly staged on Sunday by the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan and the Association of the Affectees of Baldia Fire Tragedy.
The demonstrators marched from the Arts Council of Pakistan to the Karachi Press Club.

Addressing the rally, NTUF central deputy-general secretary Nasir Mansoor said that despite the incident, the government and related departments are yet to take steps to safeguard the lives of workers.
He said that 259 workers were burnt alive but no precautionary actions have been taken after this grave tragedy.
He said the apathy of the rulers can be gauged from the fact that the aid announced is yet to be given to the families of the victims.
to read.
tribune

* Two years later, Baldia fire still burns in hearts:

The heirs of the Baldia factory fire victims, trade unionists and civil society activists staged a rally outside the press club on Sunday to mark the second anniversary of the tragic event and demand compensation from the stakeholders indirectly involved in the disaster and also lifelong pension from the Employees’ Old-age Benefits Institute (EOBI).

The participants of the rally, staged jointly by the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF) and the association formed by the people affected by the Baldia tragedy, pointed out that as the KIK, the German company that was having its products manufactured at the ill-fated factory, and the RINA, the Italian organisation that issued an SA8000 certificate and thereby attesting to its compliance with the social accountability system, were equally responsible for the disaster and should compensate the heirs of the people killed in the fire.

However, they added, these organisations were reluctant to accept responsibility and compensate the affected people as per the international laws.

Besides, they also demanded that the EOBI had issued pension cards to heirs valid for just five years instead of a lifetime.

On September 11, 2012, over 250 people were killed when a fire broke out at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Baldia Town.

A case was registered under sections related to murder against the factory owners, its general manager, security guards and some government officials over negligence.

Around 150 people, including the heirs of the victims, industrial workers, students and civil society activists, participated in the rally.

They walked from the Arts Council to the press club. Speaking on the occasion, NTUF central deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor said the government had still no taken steps to safeguard the lives of factory workers.

“Even though 259 workers were burnt alive, no precautionary actions have been taken after tragedy,” he noted. “Such incidents will continue to happen at factories and that shows that the rulers are least concerned about the lives of workers.”

Mansoor said the heirs had still not received the aid announced for them by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
read more.
thenewspk

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20140820

* Baldia fire tragedy: labour rights activists from Europe due on 27th:

A team of labour rights organisations is coming from European countries to Pakistan on Aug 27 to discuss issues concerning the Baldia factory fire tragedy with their Pakistani counterparts and filing of cases against the certificate issuing authority, RINA, it emerged on Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference held at the Karachi Press Club, deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) Nasir Mansoor said two years had passed but the authorities concerned seemed “not interested in providing a better legal system to deal with such issues”.

Sitting beside the Baldia fire victims’ families, Mansoor said the promises made by the authorities to the families had not been fulfilled.
“We have three persisting issues with the authorities. One, to pay compensation to the remaining 120 workers.
Also, the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) issue its cards to 92 employees, which is still pending,” he said.

He added that the pension cards, initially issued to the families under the EOBI, would last for five years only. And the demands to the contrary were “being ignored by the officials”.

In September the trade unions will commemorate the second anniversary of the Baldia factory fire in which 259 workers were killed. Despite many statements in the press, the trade unionists and labour organisations speak of the government’s “lack of empathy”.
read more.
DAWNnew

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20140824

* Two years after factory fire tragedy, trial yet to start :

PAKISTAN-UNREST-FIRE
Firefighters and medical personnel take part of rescue operation in the Baldia Town garment factory in Karachi. — Photo by AFP

Despite the passage of around two years, the trial of the case pertaining to the devastating fire that broke out in a Baldia Town garment factory in which over 250 workers died has yet to commence, it emerged on Saturday.

The owner of the industrial unit, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, and his two sons — Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila — general manager Mansoor and some gatekeepers have been booked in the case while on the directive of a magistrate, the then managing director of SITE Abdul Rasheed Solangi, labour department director Zahid Gulzar Shaikh, additional controller of civil defence Ghulam Akbar and chief inspector (electrical) Amjad Ali were also named in the case for their alleged negligence.

However, the case has yet to reach the stage of indictment as the process of supplying copies of evidence to suspects has not been completed while the issue of removal of section of the premeditated murder offence from the last charge-sheet also has remained undecided.
read more.
DAWNnew

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20140903

* Second anniversary: SHC asks about compensation for victims of Baldia inferno:

20140903 TRIBUNE
Two years after one of the biggest industrial disasters in Pakistan, the Sindh High Court wants to know what authorities have done to give justice to the heirs of the 259 workers who were killed in the Baldia factory fire. PHOTO: FILE

As the second anniversary of one of the country’s biggest industrial disasters, the Baldia factory inferno, approaches the court wants to know what the authorities have done to assist the legal heirs of the victims and the survivors. The incident had claimed the lives of 259 labourers in a deadly factory inferno in Karachi in 2012.

On Tuesday, the Sindh High Court (SHC) issued notices to the federal and provincial authorities to explain how much of the monetary compensation pledged by the authorities had been provided and whether the charred bodies had been identified or not.

Headed by SHC Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar, the bench was hearing two miscellaneous applications pleading to question the authorities regarding the payment of monetary compensation.

A deadly fire at the Ali Enterprises had killed 259 workers, including women and youngsters, who were trapped inside the locked premises on September 11, 2012.

The factory owners, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, and his sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, have been named in FIR 343 of 2012, registered at the SITE-B police station under Sections 435, 436, 337, 322, 302 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Later, the court had ordered the owners’ release after the police investigator excluded murder charges from the case.

Days before the families are set to mark the second anniversary, the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), has filed two applications in court.

Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah, a representative of the labour rights group, requested the court to direct the federal government and the provincial labour secretary to submit proof that Rs400,000 had been given to the family of  each victim as announced by the Prime Minister.

He said that the authorities should also be asked to explain why this amount had not been provided to the families of 45 victims.
read more.
tribune

* Factory fire victims to approach court for compensation:

Represen-tatives of a European organisation are currently in Karachi to hold meetings with the families of the Baldia Town factory fire victims, it emerged on Tuesday.

Medico International Organisation’s representative Thomas Siebert met around 25 families of those killed in the Baldia factory fire to discuss filing of court cases for compensation.

Speaking about it over the phone, the executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), Karamat Ali, said: “Families are being advised on how to go about filing individual cases. Two to three people will be nominated from the 25 [families] who will file court cases to get compensation.”

But Mr Ali along with the counsel for the victims is waiting to get the collective compensation from a German firm, KIK.

“The company went back on its word after signing a memorandum of understanding with the labour organisations to support a long-term compensation for the families of the victims,” he said.
read more.
DAWNnew

* SHC seeks Baldia fire victims’ DNA tests report:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed the chief secretary on Tuesday to submit a report on the DNA tests conducted for ascertaining the identities of the Baldia fire factory victims whose bodies could not be identified.

The court was hearing an application filed by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research seeking the compliance of the court orders issued on March 12 last year wherein the chief secretary was told to conduct DNA tests of the unidentified bodies prior to their burial.

Piler and others had filed a petition in the high court for the formation of a judicial commission that could fix identify the people responsible for the fire at Ali Enterprise factory on September 11, 2012 in which around 289 people were killed.

Faisal Siddiqui, the petitioner’s counsel, submitted that the court had also directed the labour secretary and the federal law officer to submit a report on the details of compensation money and pension benefits given to the heirs of the victims.
read more.
thenewspk

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20140905

* Baldia fire tragedy likened to 9/11 attacks:

“The second anniversary of the Baldia factory fire is coming up. What happened on Sept 11, 2012, carried an uncanny resemblance to America’s 9/11,” said Karamat Ali, executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Research and Education.

He was speaking at a discussion on ‘Promoting labour compliance in Pakistan, a sourcing perspective’ organised by the US consulate and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan. “The workers were locked inside the burning factory.

They just couldn’t escape. And there were more than 1,500 there but only 160 of them were registered employees. All kinds of laws, including building control laws were violated and the labour department didn’t even know of the factory’s existence,” he said. “We should list what had happened and what was done and what needs to be done in order to avert such a tragedy.”

US consul general in Karachi Brian Heath said: “US businesses face strong pressure from domestic consumers to source from safe factories that treat their workers fairly.”

Explaining the benefits of a healthy, safe, well-trained work force, he said: “Workers stay at your company longer; they are absent less often; and they produce more.” When labour rights are honoured, said Mr Heath, supply chains are more robust, reliable, and resilient. “Denying workers their universal rights costs society dearly in lost productivity, innovation, and growth, as well as undermining the rule of law and creating instability.”
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DAWNnew

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20140910

* ‘Baldia tragedy fails to wake up govt to dangers workers face’:

The Baldia Factory fire tragedy, which could have been a catalyst for bringing in more focused policies for workers’ rights by the provincial government, has remained unable to produce any lasting effect.

This was stated by executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) Karamat Ali while addressing a press conference on Tuesday at the Karachi Press Club held in connection with the anniversary of the incident that occurred on Sept 11, 2012.

Accompanied by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan representatives and activists from various trade and labour unions, Mr Ali said most families of the Baldia factory fire tragedy were compensated, “but the compensation is not the only solution to deal with such an incident. An overhaul of factories in and around Karachi needs to be carried out”.

Speaking about the commemoration plans being prepared by Piler for the upcoming anniversary, Mr Ali said that there would be a programme at the Arts Council.
read more.
DAWNnew

* Still Waiting:

VICTIMS OF WORKPLACE TRAGEDIES INCLUDING ALI ENTERPRISES FIRE AND THE COLLAPSED RANA PLAZA STILL WAITING FOR COMPENSATION.

September 11, 2014, marks the second anniversary of the fatal fire at Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan, which killed at least 254 garment workers and injured 55.

Two years on, the victims families and the survivors are still waiting for the compensation they are entitled to.

Just weeks before the fire, the factory was audited on behalf of Italian social audit firm RINA for SAI (Social Accountability International) 8000 certification – and passed – even though it had no emergency exits, barred windows, was not registered and had an entire illegal mezzanine floor built on.

The survivors and victims families fate is shared with the families of more than 1,300 garment workers who have been killed in unsafe workplaces in Asia since the Ali Enterprises fire, and the thousands more who survived fires and building collapses but whose lives have been changed forever.

German retailer KiK had clothes produced in each of the three factories to witness the greatest loss of life – Ali Enterprises, Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza – and yet to date has failed to provide full and fair compensation for all the victims.

In December 2012 KIK, the only known buyer at Ali Enterprises factory, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) committing an initial US$1 million for immediate relief and agreeing to negotiations surrounding the amount required to pay compensation. However the negotiation is being delayed by KiK, who most recently pulled out at the last minute of planned negotiations in July and compensation remains unpaid.

KIK has committed US$1 million to the Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund, just a fifth of what Clean Clothes Campaign estimates they owe, based on their annual turnover. And for the victims of Tazreen Fashions they have failed to contribute a cent.

“Compensation is a right. It is a disgrace that so many workers and their families are still waiting for payments, which whilst they will never replace a loved one, or take away the horrors, can and should go some way to helping people rebuild their shattered lives.” says Ms. Ineke Zeldenrust, of Clean Clothes Campaign.
“KIK’s refusal to accept their responsibility for payments just prolong the suffering of the very people their profits are built on.”

The tragedies in the garment industry over the last two years have highlighted the urgent need for a more long term and sustainable compensation system for workplace accidents as per ILO standards and in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights right to remedy framework.
The framework makes clear that “when … there is a failure to protect and respect human rights in the workplace then governments and companies must ensure effective remedies, including adequate compensatory payments.”

“It is not charity that the survivors want, it is their right to full and
fair compensation,” says Mr. Karamat Ali, Executive Director of PILER.

As workers and campaigners around the world hold candlelight vigils and actions to commemorate those who died in the fire, Clean Clothes Campaign renews it’s call to KiK to resume negotiations based on the legally binding agreement with PILER, and pay up, ensuring all the victims families and survivors receive the compensation they are owed before another year passes.
to read.
CCC

* Workers of the World Unite:

Pakistani singer Jawad Ahmed with a powerful song dedicated to the victims of factory fires in Asia.

Don’t You Ever Forget It…

My Tears, my Screams
My Burning, my Crying
My Shouting with Pain…
My Helpless Dying…
Don’t You Ever Forget It…

Just because I am a poor Worker...
Remember that I Am also Human….

My Body feels pain the same way as does yours…
We will never ever Burn and Die like This….

Despotic is the rule, unjust is the law…
Just because I am a poor Worker...
Remember that I Am also Human….

The Hell that you are so afraid of…
I have already gone through its experience…
Look how my dreams burnt in the flames…
And my Body smouldered and melted…

After this catastrophe, you are still quiet…
Just because I am a poor Worker...
Remember that I Am also Human….

My meal was simple food…
My clothes were inexpensive…
I used to do hard labour…
Through which I earned my family’s living…

My death was an accident…
Just because I am a poor Worker...
Remember that I Am also Human….
My Body feels pain the same way as does yours…

Listen everyone, we are the Workers…
This whole world is because of us…
You must know now, we are the workers…

Remember that I Am also Human….
Whatever you have, to eat, to wear, to use, to live in…
We, the Workers, have made it all….
We have made this world run….
Industry, agriculture, progress, riches, are all because of us….
We run the factories and the institutions…
We will never let this happen again….
Now we will never ever burn and die like this…

My Body feels pain the same way as does yours…
We will never ever Burn and Die like This….
Don’t You Ever Forget It…

see video.
riseforpakistan

* No improvement: Speakers decry lack of progress in workplace safety:

Two years after a fire in a garments factory in Baldia town claimed 259 lives, the situation in hundreds of factories across Sindh has still not improved.

Thousands remain vulnerable to incidents such as the one that took place on September 11, 2012 at Ali Enterprises and the government fails to ensure workplace safety as labour laws are not implemented.

Civil society and trade union representatives expressed concern over the situation of factory workers at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday. Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), All Pakistan Trade Union Organisation, Urban Resource Centre, Muttahida Labour Federation, Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum, and Hosieries, Garments and Textile Workers General Union representatives participated in a joint press conference in which the speakers highlighted the conditions that the workers are subjected to.

Piler executive director Karamat Ali discussed the judicial commission inquiry report of the Ali Enterprises fire that claimed 259 lives and injured 55 others, and talked about Piler’s legal struggle as they attempt to get justice for the victims’ families.

He claimed that Piler would be holding different programmes along with other organisations on the second anniversary of the incident to show solidarity with the victims and their families.
A candle light vigil will be held to remember the victims at the Arts Council and a round table conference regarding health and safety issues will take place at the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology.
read more.
tribune

* Demand to improve health, safety conditions for workers:

Despite sacrifice of 259 workers in the tragedy of Baldia factory fire, the industries and factories of Pakistan still are virtual killing fields for workers and to change this sad situation the working class of Pakistan has to become unite and struggle for their due rights, compelling the government, industrialists and international brands to stop the mass murder of workers in lust of their profit-greed, said speakers of a press conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC) here Wednesday.
The press conference was arranged by National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF) on the second anniversary of the Baldia factory fire tragedy in which 259 workers were burnt alive.
Nasir Mansoor, Deputy General Secretary of NTUF said the factory fire of Ali Enterprises, Baldia Karachi was the worst industrial incident in the history of Pakistan in which 259 labors were perished alive two years ago on September 11.

The sad accident is a living example of the worst working conditions in Pakistani factories and sheer lack of safety measures.
Despite this shameful incident of Ali Enterprises fire the government and other stakeholders have failed to make improvement in working conditions of Pakistani factories and mills and a large number of labors working in different sectors particularly textiles, garments and sports goods are compelled to work in very dangerous environment, risking their lives.

Mohammad Jabbir, Organizer of Factory effectees Association said that Almost 95percent workers in Pakistan are not registered with social security and pension institutions and they do not even posses their appointment letters.

In 90percent factories of Pakistan labors work for 10 to 12 hours a day and they do not get the minimum wages.
Despite the verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the contract system of labor recruitment is in vogue in industrial, financial and trade sectors of the country. These are the basic root cause of tragedies like Balida Fire.

Veteran Labour Leader Usman Baloch said Pakistan after getting the GSP+ status is bound to safeguard the basic rights of labors, but practically in many sectors workers cannot form their trade unions, while the industrialists are free to form their forums and association to ensure getting their vested interest.
From the labor force of 60million, hardly 2.8percent labors are linked to trade unions.
read more.
onepakistan-news

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20140911

* Baldia factory fire: Two years on, victims’ families struggle to come to terms with their loss:

Sixty-four-year-old Muhammad Jameel Faridi, a resident of Surjani Town, has no one to share the grief of his only son’s tragic death. His wife, Nishat Fatima, the only person close to him, refuses to believe their son is gone forever.

The couple will be observing the second death anniversary of their son, Mohammad Danish Jameel Faridi, who was 34 at the time of his death, on the 11th of this month. Their plight is similar to the families of the 259 young boys and girls who were killed in the inferno at Ali Enterprises in Baldia Town on September 11, 2012.

“We have not talked about the tragic incident since that day,” says Faridi. “She doesn’t want to talk about it because she thinks he is alive and will come back home someday.”

Fatima refuses to believe her son is gone because they did not see his body. Their son was one of the 17 indiscernible bodies who were buried unidentified, even after the DNA verification tests.

“I lost everything that day,” he says. “Now I want to save other youngsters from meeting the same fate.” For now, Faridi has rented a portion of the house he had bought with the compensation he received for his son’s death. The rent and his son’s monthly pension of Rs4,200 now supports the old couple.

What Faridi wants is for all factories to adopt international standards of fire safety. He, along with the other victims’ families, believe that the Germany-based textile company, KIK, the main buyer of Ali Enterprises, and the Italian certification company, RINA, which had issued the SA8000 certificate to the garment factory, should also be held responsible for the tragedy.

Two Germany-based non-governmental organisations, Medico International (MI) and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), are helping the affected families file a case against the KIK in German courts.
Some of the victims’ families recently met representatives of the two organisations at the Mehran Hotel in Karachi to discuss the case and their role in the proceedings.

Three members from the affected families are filing a suit against the KIK, while the MI and ECCHR have arranged a lawyer for the case in Germany. The National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan (NTUFP) is looking after the case requirements in Pakistan.

“We are working for justice and for the protection of human rights,” said Dr Thomas Seibert, the South Asia projects coordinator for MI.

Seibert, who is a political activist working for the protection of human rights, claims to have witnessed the suffering of the garment factories workers.
He feels that German companies who buy products from these factories should be held accountable for the workers’ suffering.

“Germans wear clothes that have been manufactured in Pakistan and Bangladesh but the clothes are impregnated with the blood of these workers,” he said, explaining the reason behind their visit and interest in the case.
read more.
tribune

* Baldia factory fire: amid investigation charge-sheet delays:

Marking its second anniversary, the trial of the Baldia factory inferno has yet to kick-start after the lapse of two years – a negation of the national judicial policy, which was meant for the swift dispensation of justice to the masses, lawyers say.

20140911 TRIBUNE 1

The factory owner, Abdul Aziz Bhaila with his two sons – Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila – general manager Mansoor and some gatekeepers were booked in the case. Later, on the directives of a magistrate, the then managing director of SITE Abdul Rasheed Solangi, the labour department director Zahid Gulzar Shaikh, the additional controller of civil defence Ghulam Akbar and the chief inspector (electrical) Amjad Ali were also named in the case for their alleged negligence.

All of them later obtained bail from the courts. But, the fate of the case still remains undecided.

The case has reached the stage of indictment of the suspects, but the copies of evidence have not been supplied to them as required under Section 265-C of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), said Advocate Salahuddin Panhwar, a lawyer pursuing the case on behalf of the workers welfare organisation.

“Unless the copies are supplied the trial cannot be initiated, but the investigation is deliberately not completing this process which is why the trial has yet to formally start,” he said.
20140911 TRIBUNE 2
read more.
tribune

* Authorities still clueless about identity of 17 bodies:

Muhammad Jameel’s visits to the graveyard comprise 17 stops. His younger brother, who died in the Baldia factory inferno, is one of the 17 victims whose indiscernible bodies were buried unidentified.

Two years on, the 17 bodies remain buried at the KMC graveyard in Baldia, as the families remain clueless about which of them is their loved one.  “I don’t know which one is my brother so I stop at each of the graves to pray,” says Jameel, whose 20-year-old brother, Mohammad Waseem, died in the fire.

Waseem had been working at the marking department at the factory for four years. On the ill-fated day, he was stuck at the top floor of the factory where most of the people died.

For the identification of his body, the family was approached thrice for DNA testing. “We gave samples thrice but there were no results and even today, we don’t know which body is my brother’s,” he says.
read more.
tribune

* Two years on, Baldia factory owners yet to face justice:

Two years after 259 workers lost their lives in the Baldia factory fire, the case filed against its owners has made no progress.

These views were expressed by representatives of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), Urban Resource Centre, Now Communities and heirs of the factory workers at the Karachi Press Club.

They were speaking in connection with the second anniversary of the tragic fire which erupted in Ali Enterprises on September 11, 2012.

Lamenting the attitude of the government in taking to task those responsible for the tragic incident, labour organisations called for registering all undocumented factories and workshops.
Otherwise, they said, similar tragedies would continue to occur.
read more.
thenewspk

* Two years after:

“The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor” — Voltaire

It has been two years since Pakistan’s worst industrial disaster took place in a garment factory in Baldia Town, Karachi on Sept 9, 2012.

A fire in the factory that day led to the loss of 259 precious lives and injuries to 55 workers who got trapped in the building because three out of four doors were locked from the outside.

Locking the workers inside the premises is not uncommon in garment factories exporting to international buyers. An inquiry report released by the FIA as well as the case proceedings revealed violations of labour laws, safety laws and building by-laws by the factory owners and a number of state institutions.

Know more: Two years after factory fire tragedy, trial yet to start

Two notable aspects of the follow-up to this disaster are the nature of the criminal proceedings in the Sindh High Court (SHC) and the compensation to the bereaved families. Developments in both took place due to the pressure built by civil society organisations.

The scale of the tragedy compelled the Station House Officer concerned to register an FIR against the factory owners and relevant state bodies.
The trial got impetus from two constitutional petitions filed collectively by labour and human rights groups.
The first requested the SHC to determine the causes of the disaster, prosecute the accused individuals and state bodies for negligence and ensure compensation to the affected families.

The second, filed by the same civil society groups, successfully halted the interference of the then prime minister in the criminal prosecution.
This was one of the rare instances where the factory owners spent three and a half months behind bars for criminal negligence.
Released on bail, they are not acquitted of the charges.
The next hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.

Safety and health at workplaces remain unaddressed.
The labour organisation, PILER, in concert with a European labour pressure group, the Clean Clothes Campaign, pressurised German retail company KIK Textilion — the main importer of the Baldia factory’s products — to accept its share of responsibility.
The company paid $1 million to the affected families and promised to negotiate long-term compensation.
The high court constituted a commission to disburse the joint fund, contributed to by KIK Textilion, the factory owners and local philanthropists, to the affected families. The commission completed its task on Aug 28, 2014.

The third, and critical, aspect of the disaster relates to the existing safety conditions and labour law violations in thousands of big and small industrial units in the country. Sadly, when you review the post-disaster period, there is nothing much to write home about.

Soon after the tragedy, there was a great public outcry. Different stakeholders — labour, corporate sector and the state — all shaken, held meetings, organised seminars, and spoke of the need to ensure labour compliance. Then the din died down.
read more.
DAWNnew

* Painting a dismal picture of the working conditions in factories, trade unions demand change:

20140911 TRIBUNE 3
Mansoor added that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had promised Rs300,000 compensation for the workers on behalf of the Punjab government after the incident, but it was yet to be paid. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Two years after the tragic fire at a garment factory in Baldia, factories have yet to learn their lesson, remarked trade unionists and labourers on Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference organised by the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUFP) at the Karachi Press Club, they painted a dismal picture of the conditions of factories and workplaces.

“Factories can no longer allow themselves to be death-traps,” said trade unionist and NTUFP deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor, presenting the demands of the labourers. “The government must ratify the International Labour Organisation’s conventions on workplace safety and occupational hazards and implement them.”

Commenting on the state of factories in Pakistan, he said that 90 per cent of them had not been registered under the Factories Act of 1934 – just like Ali Enterprises, which had been operating for 11 years before the fire. Meanwhile, 95 per cent of the factory workers had no appointment letters.
“No one works for a mere eight hours in these factories,” said Mansoor. “They work for 12 to 14 hours, and even then are not paid the minimum wage.”

Factory Affectees Association organiser Mohammad Jabbir declared that factories which did not provide safety to their workers should be sealed.
“In Ali Enterprises, there was only one point for entry and exit,” he recalled. Labour leader Usman Baloch agreed with him, adding that factory workers were kept like prisoners, in rooms with no doors, no windows and no ventilation.
read more.
tribune

* Two years after fatal fire – KIK still has to pay up:

20140911 CCC kik

September 11th marks two years since the fatal fire that killed 254 garment workers at a factory in Karachi, Pakistan.

German retailer KIK were the only confirmed buyer from the factory, and yet today the victims families are still waiting for the retailer to pay full and fair compensation.

Just weeks before the fire, the factory was audited on behalf of Italian social audit firm RINA for SAI (Social Accountability International) 8000 certification – and passed – even though it had no emergency exits, barred windows, was not registered and had an entire illegal mezzanine floor built on.

The survivors and victims families fate is shared with the families of more than 1,300 garment workers who have been killed in unsafe workplaces in Asia since the Ali Enterprises fire, and the thousands more who survived fires and building collapses but whose lives have been changed forever.

German retailer KiK had clothes produced in each of the three factories to witness the greatest loss of life – Ali Enterprises, Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza – and yet to date has failed to provide full and fair compensation for all the victims.
read more.
CCC

* Families of Baldia fire victims to sue German firm:

As the Baldia factory fire tragedy is being commemorated on its anniversary, preparations are under way to file a lawsuit against the German firm, KIK, which was the main buyer of garments manufactured in the factory.

This was stated by deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan Nasir Mansoor while addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday.

He said: “Through the cases which will be filed by the families of the victims in court, we want to ensure that factories are not used to violate a worker’s rights.”

Speaking about the families and the cases for which they were being helped by lawyers, general secretary of the Home Based Women Workers Federation Zahra Khan said that five German lawyers came to Karachi on Aug 27 to investigate the case and help the families file cases in a German court against the firm, KIK, which got 95 per cent of its garments from the Ali Enterprises.

“Eleven people have submitted their documents, and out of them four will be the first ones to file a case in the coming days. We’ll see how their cases proceed and from there onwards we’ll bring in more people, who have been waiting for long term compensations. Some will also appear as witnesses.” she added.
read more.
DAWNnew

* Baldia Town factory fire victims still without compensation:

Despite repeated appeals by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), families and garment workers affected by the fire, and trade unions, the government, judicial commission and concerned authorities are still not paying attention to the demands of the victims’ families.

During a blaze at Ali Enterprises garment factory in Baldia Town, Karachi, on September 11, 2012, 259 workers were burned to death.  The affected families are still waiting for compensation.

During a press conference at Karachi Press Club held by National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and the families of the workers, Nasir Mansoor, Deputy General Secretary of NTUF, called the Baldia Town fire incident one of the worst in the history of Pakistan.

Despite several requests, the government and other institutions have failed to improve working conditions in factories and mills. A large number of workers in different sectors are compelled to work in hazardous environments where they risk their lives.

Following the ill advancement in the cases and hue and cry of the victims’ families, a delegate of ILO visited them to register four cases against the German buyer of Ali Enterprises and the licensing companies.
read more.& read more.
ILRFnew daily times PK

* 11 September 2014: Second anniversary of Baldia Factory Fire Tragedy:

Two years ago on September 11, 2012 third degree fire was broke out in Ali Enterprises, garment factory in industrial area Karachi, perished 259 workers alive.

It was one of the most devastating fire tragedies of know industrial history.
The tragedy sparked a debate but on very small scale in society on one of the most neglected but important issues; work place safety and working conditions of labor class.

But as usual soon after the tragic inferno the issue of workers was dumped under other thorny issues confronting our country.

The second anniversary of “Baldia Factory Fire Tragedy” is a right time to revisit the conditions and situations under which 60 million labor force of Pakistan compel to work.

It’s no more secret now that Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries on global spectrum in connection labor and human rights violations.
The long history of military dictatorships, state sponsored growing phenomenon of religious extremism, ethnic sectarian rifts and separatist movements and very fragile democracy are the hallmarks of Pakistan society.
These deep rooted factors hardly force anybody to see seriously into the depressing affair of workers in factories, work places and farm lands.
The issue of workers condition was no more on the priority of any governments whether elected one or the military rulers since long.

A country of more than 200 million people having huge work-force without having any benefit of basic labor right envisage in local labor laws and also in International Labor Organization (ILO) core conventions rectified by Pakistan.
The situation in all industrial sectors producing merchandise for local and international markets showed worst scenario of low wages, long working hours, no social protections nets, lack of occupational health and safety at work place and denying of right to form union and bargain collectively.

The most horrible conditions prevailed in textile, garment and apparel sectors which account for 65% of whole economy where 60% of the total workforce engaged into different stages right from cotton fields to value added goods.

The exportable textiles items from raw cotton to high quality apparels earn much needed foreign exchange of around 10 billion USD yearly, 60% of total export earnings.

The wages in textile sectors are very low as compare to other sectors so easily open to women workers as cheap and voiceless labour.
One estimate revealed that nearly 2.5 million women engaged in the garment sector alone other than millions (no data available) engaged in cotton fields and other textile related activities all over Pakistan.
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pakistannewsreleases

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20140912

* Solidarity rally demands compensation for victims’ families:

A solidarity rally of apparel workers’ leaders in the city on Thursday demanded compensation for the families affected in factory disasters in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Textile Garments Workers Federation and South Asian Garments Workers Alliance jointly organized the solidarity rally in front of National Press Club.

The apparel labour leaders demanded compensation for the families of the dead and injured workers of Ali Enterprise in Pakistan, Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions in Bangladesh.

Similar solidarity rallies were also held in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, said organisers.

Textile Garments Workers Federation president Abul Hossain told the rally that in Pakistan more than 250 workers were killed in a fire in Ali Enterprise in Karachi on September 11, in 2012.

But the family members of the workers who lost their lives were given no compensation in last two years, said Abul Hossain said.

He also demanded payment of due compensations to the affected family members of the workers who lost their lives were injured in Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashion disasters.

Labur expert Sultan Uddin Khan demanded compensation from the foreign buyers who bought apparels from the affected factories.

Apparel labour leaders demanded trade union rights in garment factories, stopping workers’ repressions.
They also demanded implementation of ILO Conventions 87 that stipulates freedom of association and protection of the right to organize.
read more.
NEWAGEnew

* Govt exhorted to ensure workplace safety:

On the second anniversary of the September 11, 2012 factory fire in which massive explosions occurred at a garment factory in Baldia Town Karachi and a shoemaking factory in Lahore that left over 257 people dead and 600 seriously injured, the trade union leaders and labourers have urged the Punjab government to ensure occupational health and safety.

The two incidents of the factory fires are regarded as the deadliest industrial factory accidents in the history of Pakistan and attracted a huge amount of condemnation by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
A garment factory in Baldia Town, known for exporting goods to the European Union countries and hiring more than 1200 workers, had been reported by Pakistan Textile Workers Union to lack the fire protection measures at its Karachi plant in 2007. According to the factory workers, the owner had repeatedly prevented labour inspections.

It is also pertinent to note that none of the workers were registered with social security or the Employee’s Old Age Benefits Institute (EOBI) and the Workers Welfare Board Public Fund.

On September 11, 2012, the factory witnessed a huge fire explosion when a faulty boiler exploded and the flames set the chemicals on fire on the factory premises.
At the time of the explosion, it is reported that more than 300 workers were trapped in the factory as all exit doors were locked and almost all the persons present there died due to suffocation.

Meanwhile, a few hours earlier on the same day, a shoemaking factory here in Gulshan-i-Ravi caught fire due to a faulty electricity generator and killed at least 25 workers.

While in the aftermath of the two incidents, political leaders from the provincial and federal governments announced aid for the affected workers and families amounting to 500,000 rupees, the owners of the factory in Karachi were eventually bailed by the Sindh High Court.

Talking to The News on the second anniversary of the incidents, activists from All Pakistan Trade Union Federation, Pakistan Workers Federation, National Students Federation, and Awami Workers Party said the incidents had left an indelible scar on Pakistan and the loss of life could have been avoided by ensuring workplace safety.
read more.
thenewspk

* Two years on, families of victims yet to get justice and compensation:

The sacrifices of 259 workers of Ali Enterprises would not be allowed to go in vain. They would be the reason for the emergence of a new labour movement, said speakers while talking to a large number of workers at the site of Baldia factory which was gutted in fire two years ago.

At a rally organised by the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF) and the association the heirs of the Baldia tragedy victims, speakers said they would not allow to turn factories and industries into death traps for their workers.

They lamented that workplaces today were not different from Ali Enterprises in terms of health and safety measures for their workers.
They said labourers cannot afford to bear another similar tragedy and industrialists had to take the lead in implementing proper occupational laws pertaining to workers’ safety.

Speakers said even after two years since the incident heirs of victims were running from pillar to post to seek justice while the promises made to them were still to be fulfilled.

“The Baldia factory fire was the biggest industrial accident in the history of Pakistan but the government and other stakeholders haven’t learnt a lesson from it,” he said. “Factories and industries still lack proper health and safety measures as their profit-hungry owners keep playing with the lives of their innocent workers.
They have virtually deprived them of their basic right to live.”

According to them, even the promises made by Prime Minister Mohammed Nawaz Sharif about providing monetary assistance to families were yet to be fulfilled.
read more.
thenewspk

* ‘Effective unionisation essential for workers’ rights’:

Unity in workers, their organised representation and the presence of a local government system are essential for obtaining rights at the workplace.

Unfortunately, in Pakistan most of the workers were deprived off their rights due to the criminal neglect of federal and provincial governments and the situation was compounded further by the absence of a functional local government system in the country. The entire focus of the parliamentarians is to take control of all the government funds.

This was expressed by a former judge of the Sindh High Court, Justice (retd) Rasheed A Razvi, while speaking at a seminar organised in connection with the second anniversary of the Baldia factory incident by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday.

More than 250 workers of Ali Enterprises, a garment factory, lost their lives in 2012 while dozens of others had been injured in the worst-ever industrial fire of the country.

The Sindh minister for industries, Rauf Siddiqui, appealed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to fulfil his commitment of providing Rs30,000 to each of the bereaved families.

According to him, his department had provided aid to all workers. “The owners were powerful people and I resigned in protest when they were released on bail,” he claimed. He said all affected families would be facilitated and due rights would be provided to them.
read more.
thenewspk

* Unsafe garment industry needs trade unions:

11 September marked the second anniversary of the deadly fire at a factory owned by Ali Enterprises in Karachi.

The fire was one of the worst industrial accidents in Pakistan; 259 workers died, many were seriously injured and 1,500 were left with no employment.

The factory was a disaster waiting to happen.
Ali Enterprises was not registered under Pakistan’s factory Act; the building structure was not legally approved by the Building authority; the majority of the workers did not have appointment letters; all worked under an illegal third party contact system with working hours ranging from ten to 14 hours a day without overtime; the majority of workers were not registered with the Social Security Institute and Old Age Benefits Institute which is mandatory.
And as there was no trade union, there was no right to collective bargaining.

In an ironic twist of events, the factory had received a clean sheet from an international social auditing company merely two weeks before the inferno broke out, certifying that all was according to standard.

The fire turned the factory into a death trap. More than 600 workers were trapped inside the factory which had no functional fire extinguishing system, all windows were closed and covered with iron rods and all exit door were forcibly locked preventing the workers to escape before all merchandise was recovered from the fire.

After spending five months in jail, the owners of Ali Enterprises were released on bail.

Few unions in the garment industry
The garment industry accounts for 65% of Pakistan’s economy. 60%of the country’s total workforce in the garment sector with everything raw cotton to ready-made garments.

The deadly fire two years ago sparked a small-scale debate on work safety and working conditions, but it in a country with 60 million workers without basic labour rights the discussion soon died out.

Traditionally, factory owners and local administration have come down hard on attempts to form trade unions. As a consequence, less than two per cent of the garment workers are unionised.

IndustriALL Global Union affiliate National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan (NTUF) joined forces with other labour and human rights organizations to find those responsible for the tragedy.

A commission was established to find cause and responsibility of the fire. A report was submitted to the government with the findings, but even two years after the tragedy the government refuses to make it public.

Some families of deceased workers have received partial compensation, while many are still waiting for the compensation. Following pressure from international and domestic trade unions and labour organisations, German brand Kik, who sourced form the factory, have committed to provide USD 1 million USD as initial compensation.

Nasir Mansoor, Deputy General Secretary of NTUF says:
“We achieved this thanks to a great show of global solidarity, but we still have a long way to go. In countries like Pakistan where injustice becomes law, workers have no choice than to start resistance.”
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INDUSRIall

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20140913

* Baldia fire: Families yet to be compensated, records say otherwise:

The federal finance department has deducted Rs129.5 million from the budgetary allocation of the Workers Welfare Fund so the amount can be paid to the workers who died in the Baldia factory fire but none of the families have received the promised amount.

This was disclosed before a Sindh High Court division bench, headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar, during the hearing of a petition seeking compensation. Official figures say 259 workers were burnt alive inside the garments factory on September 11, 2012.

On Friday, the court was informed that compensation of Rs500,000 each was announced for the families of the victims by the Workers Welfare Fund on November 20, 2012.

The court was informed that the finance department has already deducted the amount, which was to be paid in addition to the compensations announced by the prime minister and the provincial government.
In a letter, the provincial labour secretary, who is also the Workers Welfare Fund board chairman, had requested the Workers Welfare Fund Islamabad secretary to personally ensure the release of the Rs129.5 million grant.

The bench directed the secretary to release the amount for distribution, especially since the amount has already been deducted from the budget.

PM’s compensation
The provincial labour secretary informed that the then Pakistan Peoples Party federal government had provided Rs84 million to the provincial government for the payment of Rs400,000 to each family as part of the compensation pledged by the prime minister.
The amount has been disbursed among 210 families, while 45 are still waiting to receive their payments. The secretary’s lawyer, Samiullah Soomro, said the provincial government has distributed all of the funds that it had received from the Centre.
read more.
tribune

* SHC seeks progress report of DNA tests on unidentified bodies:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday directed the in-charge and project director National Forensic Science Agency to submit a report of the progress on preparing the DNA reports of the unidentified bodies of Baldia factory fire within two weeks.

The order came on an application filed by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), seeking compliance of the court directive of March 12 last year that ordered the chief secretary to conduct DNA tests of unidentified bodies.

The Piler and others filed the petition in the SHC for the constitution of a judicial commission which may fix the responsibility on the persons responsible for the fire incident at the Ali Enterprise in Baldia that claimed the lives of as many as 289 people on September 11, 2012 and suggest monetary compensation for the legal heirs of the inferno victims.

Piler’s counsel Faisal Siddiqui also submitted in the application that the investigation officer of the case, Jehanzaib Khan, was benefiting the accused persons and delaying the proceedings of the trial, saying that despite the lapse of two years even the charges were not framed against the accused persons.
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thenewspk

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20140915

* A continuing tragedy:

Two years after a devastating fire ravaged the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town, killing 259 workers, all but a small handful of their families have not received even a small portion of the compensation amounts publically promised to them in 2012, after the tragedy occurred on September 11.

Some victims have lost their only bread winners.
The owners of the factory, which lacked sufficient safety exits or fire protection measures, are still to face anything resembling punishment, as the investigation lingers on, holding up the trial process.
This then is the state of justice in our country.
The impoverished victims, who gathered in large numbers to mark the anniversary of the tragedy, essentially have nowhere to turn and no means to seek redress for their grievance.
Some have not even been able to conduct funeral rites, since some bodies were never found or identified.

International labour bodies have termed the fire amongst the worst accidents in industrial history anywhere in the world.
This was highlighted by labour leaders speaking at the second anniversary gathering in Karachi on Thursday.
What the Baldia tragedy also reveals is the condition in which millions of labourers toil in our country.
According to estimates 60 million people work in factories or similar establishments. For most of this labour force safety conditions are poor with existing labour laws intended to protect them poorly implemented.
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20140916

20140910 * KiK stalling on further compensation: Victims prepare to launch lawsuit in Germany:

Immediate aid: check; long term compensation: still outstanding – that’s the status of negotiations between KiK and survivors and surviving dependants of the fire in the Ali Enterprises textile factory in Pakistan two years ago.

254 people died and 55 were injured in the catastrophe on 11 September 2012. German textile discounter KiK, the factory’s biggest client, made an immediate relief payment following the fire but has been stalling during negotiations on long term compensation.

In light of considerable public pressure, KiK entered into a contractual agreement in December 2012 undertaking, among other things, to take part in negotiations on long term compensation.
These payments would aim to compensate for instance for the permanent loss of earnings of a family’s main provider.
“KiK has been dragging its feet on these negotiations for almost a year,” says Frauke Banse from the Clean Clothes Campaign who is taking part in the negotiations.
“If this persists, legal steps will have to be taken to ensure compliance with the agreement.”

The case is not just about the money. “The victims are looking for justice.
They want KiK to finally acknowledge responsibility for its overseas supply operations,” says Miriam Saage-Maaß from the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR).
“Should the negotiations break down again, they are prepared to take legal action against KiK in a German court.”
ECCHR and the Frankfurt-based relief organization medico international are supporting six families through the legal proceedings surrounding the incident and in the preparation of a lawsuit in Germany.
Last week they were in Pakistan to meet with those affected, who have formed the Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association.
“KiK will only meet its obligations if the public pressure in Germany is sustained,” says Thomas Seibert, South Asia Coordinator at medico international.

To mark the second anniversary of the fire, the heads of DGB, ver.di and IG Metall have launched a petition named “Wir stehen am Anfang” (We are just beginning). In Berlin, a vigil will be held today at 5pm outside the KiK store in Neukölln (Hermannstraße 214) in remembrance of the deceased. Memorials will also be held in Cologne, Amsterdam and Karachi.
to read.
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20140923

* Sindh govt prepares first-ever policy on occupational safety and health:

The first ever draft provincial policy on occupational safety and health (OSH) was unveiled in Karachi, by the Sindh Labour Department in a tripartite consultation with employers, workers, civil society organisations and media. 

The policy has been designed as part of the tripartite Joint Action Plan for ‘Promoting Workplace Safety & Health in Sindh’ developed with the technical support of International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the aftermath of devastating factory fire in Baldia Town Karachi in September 2012.

The policy recognises the need for regulatory and enforcement issues, knowledge and awareness issues; and business and financial issues related to the occupational safety and health of workers in the province of Sindh.
It also recognises the need for strict application of OSH standards in all sectors of the economy and in all forms of employment relationships including formal and informal economic sectors.

The primary purpose of this policy is not only to eliminate the incidence of work-related injuries, diseases, fatalities, disaster and loss of national assets and ensuring achievements of a high level of OSH performance through proactive approaches but to also enhance the well-being of the employee and the society at large and bringing about a positive economic growth in the province by minimising losses, wastes and inefficiencies.
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daily times PK

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20140927

* Contempt notices issued to NFSA, DNA lab chiefs in Baldia factory case:

The Sindh High Court on Sep 26 issued a contempt of court notice to the head of the National Forensic Science Authority (NFSA) and the official in charge of the DNA laboratory over their failure to submit a detailed report on the DNA tests conducted to ascertain the identity of the Baldia factory fire victims whose bodies could not be identified.

A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar was seized with an application filed by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, seeking compliance with the court orders issued on March 12 last year regarding the DNA tests of the unidentified bodies prior to their burial.

On Sep 26, the bench observed that the NFSA project director and the official in charge of the lab did not file requisite report in compliance with its order despite clear instructions.

During hearing on Sep 26, the bench observed that despite clear instructions neither official in charge of the DNA lab nor NFSA’s project director filed requisite report in compliance with the its order.
read more.
DAWNnew

* Forensic agency issued with contempt notice for delaying DNA reports:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday issued contempt of court notices to the in-charge and project director of the National Forensic Science Agency (NFSA) for their failure to submit a report regarding the progress being made towards preparing reports of DNA tests conducted on the unidentified bodies of the Baldia factory fire incident within two weeks.

The court was hearing an application filed by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), seeking compliance with the court directive of March 12 last year that ordered the chief secretary to conduct DNA tests on the unidentified bodies prior to their burial.

The petition was filed for the constitution of a judicial commission to fix the responsibility on the people responsible for the fire incident at the Ali Enterprises which claimed the lives of 259 people on September 11, 2012, and to suggest monetary compensation for the legal heirs of the victims.

The division bench headed by SHC Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar took exception to the non-filing of report by the NFSA officials and directed them to file the report along with the explanation by October 17.
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20140928

* Court orders: SHC issues contempt notices in Baldia factory fire case :

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday issued contempt notices to the head of the National Forensic Science Authority (NFSA) and the in-charge of its DNA laboratory over their failure to submit a detailed report on the identification of burnt bodies from the Baldia factory fire.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar also issued a contempt notice to the Employees Old-Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) chairperson for failing to submit a report on the payment of statutory pension to the families of the 259 workers who perished in the country’s worst industrial disaster.

The contempt notices were issued during the hearing of an application filed by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research. In an earlier hearing, the court had directed the EOBI chairperson to file a detailed report stating how many victims’ families are getting pensions and explaining why others were not paid. EOBI authorities had also been told to ensure payment of the statutory pension to all the remaining families without any further delay.
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20140930

*  Burnt bodies:

September 11 was the second anniversary of the Baldia Factory fire in which 300 innocent people perished.

Let’s go back in time about one hundred years to March 25, 1911. In the deadliest industrial disaster in US history 146 people – mostly young women, ages 16 to 23 – die in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire under almost similar conditions.

Just like in Baldia Factory, there were no escape exits as the doors were locked to prevent workers from leaving without permission and ‘stealing’ stuff.
The fire department responded but did not have proper equipment to reach the 10th, 11th and 12th floors where the factory was located. As a result many young workers jumped to their deaths through windows.

The owners of the factory though convicted by the court, actually ended up making money as they paid $75 per deceased and recouped $400 per casualty from the insurance for the loss. Neither of the two incidents can be called an accident. It was nothing short of murder of the innocent workers due to wilful neglect, pure greed, and sheer indifference to the sanctity of human life.

Rose Schneiderman, a prominent socialist and union activist, gave a speech at the memorial meeting on April 2, 1911, “I would be a traitor to the burned bodies if I came here to talk good fellowship.
We have tried you good people of the public and we have found you wanting…We have tried you citizens; we are trying you now, and you have a couple of dollars for the sorrowing mothers, brothers, and sisters by way of charity gift.

“But every time workers come out in the only way they know to protest against conditions which are unbearable, the strong hand of the law is allowed to press down heavily upon us….Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it s up to the working people to save themselves by a strong working class movement.”
read more.

* Bleak working conditions: ‘Industrial tragedies likely to keep occurring’:

20140929 TRIBUNESiddiqui highlighted the need for enforcing laws that deal with labourers, calling for pressure from international buyers to ensure the implementation of health and safety regulations. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Two years ago, 259 workers were killed in a garments factory in Baldia in the worst industrial fire in Pakistan’s history. However, the causes behind the workers’ deaths remain, with other similar incidents likely to occur in the future.

Trade unionists, social activists and lawyers expressed their concerns about the lack of action taken to redress the dangerous conditions of the country’s factory on Saturday, the second day of the three-day Sindh Labour Conference organised by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) at their office in Gulshan-e-Maymar.

20140929 TRIBUNE 2

“In the Baldia tragedy, it was not the fire that killed the workers but the actions and inaction of the people in charge of their safety,” said lawyer Faisal Siddiqui, comparing the incident to New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire that occurred in 1911 and claimed 146 lives.
He said that both incidents happened in similar circumstances, with the owners of both the factories giving nearly the same statements about the closure of factory doors at the time of the fires, trapping workers inside.

“People died here because the building was constructed in violation of by-laws,” he said. “It was not even registered with the labour department, so the department did not bother to inspect it.”
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* Perilous workplace:

For long, Pakistan has had a poor track record of health and safety conditions at the workplace.

The tragic fire in a Karachi garment factory in 2012 is an eye opener in this regard; it resulted in the death of dozens of workers. Such incidents, on a smaller scale and without the casualties, are a regular feature especially during industrial production. Lethargic attitude of employers towards health safety standards is a major concern reason for the phenomenon.

Ultimately, health and safety conditions have a paramount impact upon workers’ health and ultimately upon organisational productivity.

Presently, workers are more vulnerable to health hazards due to hi tech industrial production and complex chemical processes.
While the developed world has implemented a stricter regime on health safety standards and minimised health and safety risks, developing countries still lag behind in this field.
Our industrial workforce is compelled to work under challenging circumstances lacking even basic health and safety safeguards. Local industry has no permanent positions for safety engineers and the practice is limited to a formality.

According to the ILO (International Labour Organisation) every year more than two million people die from occupational accidents and diseases in the world.
Most of this happens in developing countries like Pakistan with a very low rate of industrial growth and where most of the labour belongs to unskilled class of workers.

|The work performed in Pakistan’s industry is of semi mechanised nature with little safeguards, informal training culture, low rate of literacy and the ratio of workplace accidents is on the upward trend.
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* Baldia Garment Factory Fire Disaster & the Accountability Campaign Thereafter:

by PILER, Pakistan

Two years have passed since the worst ever industrial disaster in Pakistan’s history occurred on 11th September 2012 when a massive fire in the three-storied garment factory called Ali Enterprises situated in the Baldia Town area of Karachi caused the deaths of 259 workers and serious injuries to 55.

On September 12, 2014, we recalled that horrific event and took another look at the circumstances which led to it and saw to what extent the problem of payment of adequate compensation to the families of the dead and injured workers have been addressed by the parties concerned and also whether there has been any perceptible improvement in the otherwise pathetic state of health and safety arrangements in the textile industry.

Textile Industry and Labour
Textile Industry plays a central role in Pakistan’s economy; it claims 55 percent of the country’s exports.  In the year 2012, it earned 13 billion US dollars worth foreign exchange. Its share in the GDP is 8 percent. The Textile Sector provides employment to 40 percent of the country’s workforce i.e. about 2.5 million workers.

 Workers in the textile industry have to endure long working hours, low wages, curbs on unionization and collective bargaining, besides poor and inadequate health and safety facilities. Major part of the industry operates in the informal sector. A large number of small-scale textile units are not registered with the authorities and even in those which are registered, the owners do not show the names of all the workers in their records, with the result that they are deprived of even the limited facilities under the Social Security Scheme. Labour Inspection scheme is as good as non-existent.

The Accident at Ali Enterprise Garment Factory – Brief History

Ali Enterprise Garment Factory was housed in 3-storey building situated at F-76, SITE, Baldia Town, Karachi employing a labour force of 1500 workers. The accident happened in the evening, when about 650 persons were at work. In addition, there were also a number of employees who had come to collect their wages. The factory had four doors for entry and exit. At the time of accident, three of the four doors were locked from outside. Windows were laced with strong wire gauzes. The casualties occurred because the workers had no way to escape from the burning building. The factory had large stocks of inflammable materials like chemicals, cloth, electric cables, paper and cardboard.

Violation of Labour Laws in the Factory
According to the report of the tribunal appointed by the government to investigate into the causes of the accident, Ali Enterpprise factory was not registered with the Labur Department under Factory Act 1934. That is why labour inspection was never done here.

Ali Enterprise was registered with EOBI( Employees Old age benefits Institution) but instead of 1500, the names of only 200 employees were documented.

Similarly, only 258 employees were registered with SESSI.( Sindh Employees Social Security Institution)

The factory was not registered with the Civil Defence Authority, which lays down the principles of protection against accidents and fire risk. As a result, the laws and principles governing electricity and electric wiring were being violated. No inspection was carried out by the Electricity Department after 2004.
(……)

Conditions of workers in Ali Enterprise

In the immediate aftermath of the accident, PILER conducted a survey covering 100 employees, to gather information on the condition of the workers. The survey brought to light the following facts:

  • 87 percent of the workers were employed on contract basis. They were not enlisted either in the SESSI or in the EOBI.
  • There was no union in the factory which could have raised its voice in support of the rights of the workers.
  • Average age of the workers was 30 years, i.e. majority of workers were youth.
  • Average daily working hours were 12.
  • Only 15 percent of the workers were aware that products of the factory were being exported to the German firm KIK.

Legal measures taken after the Baldia factory accident
The day after the accident, i.e. on 12th September 2012, a First Information Report (FIR) No. 343 was filed by the area police station SHO about the deaths of the workers and accusing the factory owners of criminal negligence.

On 17th September 2012, PILER, along with 4 other civil society organizations ,  filed a constitutional petition No. 3318 in the Sindh High Court, requesting the Court to appoint a Judicial Commission to investigate and determine the causes of the accident,  fix the responsibility for criminal negligence, pay adequate compensation to the affected families and file charges against the individuals, organisations and institutions, including provincial government agencies and related departments, and issue orders to the Government of Sindh and its Labour ministry and other related departments to carry out a comprehensive survey of all the factories in Sindh and submit concrete proposals for the prevention of such industrial accidents  in the future.
read more.
ASFWa  / PILER

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20141107

* Quiet burns the fire:

What do you think it would be like to walk into a factory and see 259 bodies strewn on top of one another?” asked Shakeel as he stared blankly into space.
“I shrouded scores of them with my own hands,” he said.

His fingers nervously picked at loose threads in the carpet as his sons, both in their 20s, shifted uncomfortably in the background.

They were surrounded by a dozen or so grief-stricken relatives of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2012 when a deadly fire broke out inside a garment factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town.
After a long pause, Shakeel broke his silence. “I sifted through the piles for hours, but there was no end [to my search].
It was only later when we transported the bodies to a hospital that I found out that my son was among them too. His remains were so charred that I could not recognise him.”

Two years after the incident, the relatives of the dead are as angry as they are heavy-hearted. Sometimes called Pakistan’s 9/11, the fire at the factory owned and operated by a textile exporter, Ali Enterprises, has left many unanswered questions in its wake.
Why has it been left largely ignored?
How have the deaths of so many people been brushed under the carpet by the state machinery that has failed to deliver both justice and compensation despite the passing of two years?

The Baldia incident holds the unfortunate distinction of being the deadliest factory fire in recorded human history. (Another fire the same day at a shoe factory in Lahore, which claimed 25 lives, only accentuated the tragic intensity of the deaths in Karachi.)
The closest that another fire incident comes is the one that happened at Kader Toy Factory in Thailand in 1993, killing 188 people.

The Karachi incident bears striking resemblance to the 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York which claimed 146 lives. The contrast between the two incidents is also striking.
The New York fire led to a huge mobilisation among the labour force and consequently a drastic overhaul of the laws governing working conditions in industrial units (the building that housed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory is now declared a national landmark).
Ali Enterprises in Karachi, on the other hand, remains abandoned; its blackened windows are a haunting reminder of dire working conditions and undelivered justice.

The inferno
Payday might have come a day late — but it did come. On that September evening, workers at the factory were queuing up to collect their salaries.
At about 6.30 pm, there were close to a thousand people present within the factory building.

As fires are a routine occurrence in most Pakistani factories, witnesses said they were not particularly panicked at first.
The owners of Ali Enterprises – Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his sons Shahid and Arshad – are alleged to be known for forcing workers to salvage goods before getting themselves to safety (the echoes of these allegations were also heard during the proceedings of a judicial commission investigating the matter).

But what started as just another fire, resulting from poor maintenance of electric wiring, soon escalated to a full-scale inferno, leading to a rush towards the only open exit.
Fearing that the workers may steal their merchandise or want to leave earlier than they should, the employers had shut down all emergency exits except one and boarded up the windows — something the owners of Ali Enterprises could not deny in their testimonies.
As the workers were scampering to get out, they found the stairs and hallways blocked by large cartons of packaged goods.
read more.
herald-beta

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20141205

* IO of Baldia fire case changed, families told:

The investigation officer of the Baldia factory fire case has been changed recently after the order of the Sindh High Court, the victims’ families and representatives of labour organisations were told during their meeting on Thursday.

The families of the Baldia factory fire victims gathered for a general meeting held at the Pakistan Medical Association office.

The meeting was arranged by a group working for rights of the victims, called Ali Enterprise Factory Fire Affectees.

Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) said that the IO had been changed after he failed to comply with the court orders in presenting the charge-sheet against the accused. As a result of it, the accused were enlarged on bail, he added.

After a long wait of two years, there were several positive developments which the NTUF general secretary shared with the families.

The first and foremost problem faced by the families was to get pension from the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution, which Mr Mansoor said was almost resolved. “Apart from that, the Sindh Employee Social Security Institute is also playing a supportive role in helping out the families. Because of which a majority of the families have been issued pension cards except for the remaining 11 people,” he added.

Also, according to Mr Mansoor, the high court passed an order to give Rs500,000 in aid to the families, which was promised by Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Nawaz Sharif when he visited the families in 2012 and was not prime minister.

“The families will start getting the amount from next week,” he added.

Mr Mansoor and counsel for the families of Baldia fire victims Faisal Siddiqi explained that local issues had almost been settled and now there were only two remaining issues to deal with — one, to get the compensation from the foreign companies involved; and two, to ask them to also pay up for the pain and suffering caused by families as well.
read more.
DAWNnew

* Baldia factory fire: Families demand PM fulfil his promise:

Families of the victims of Baldia factory fire have warned that they will take to the streets, if they are not provided with their due compensation.

A rally will be carried out at Regal Chowk on December 14 against the unfulfilled promises made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and a real estate tycoon, said Nasir Mansoor, the deputy general secretary of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF).

“Nawaz Sharif, when he was in the opposition, had announced Rs0.3million as financial aid to those affected by the tragic fire on behalf of the Punjab government,” he said, while speaking at a meeting of NTUF and Association of Affectees of Baldia Tragedy on Thursday at Pakistan Medical Association House. “So far, we have received nothing.”

20141205 TRIBUNE Nasir-Mansoor

He added that 110 families were still waiting for compensation as promised by a real estate tycoon and letters were written to him repeatedly but all in vain.

While talking about the working conditions of labourers, he said that nothing had improved despite people having witnessed one of the deadliest industrial disasters in the country.

“Pakistan was granted a GSP plus status by the European Union in January this year,” he said. “With this agreement, the Pakistani government and industrialists have agreed upon ensuring working conditions as set by the International Labour Organisation.”
read more.

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20141215

* Baldia factory fire tragedy: German firm urged to pay compensation:

20141215 DAWN
Family members of the Baldia Town factory fire victims stage a protest outside the Karachi Press Club on Sunday. Photo by White Star.

A number of families of the Baldia factory fire victims took out a rally from Regal Chowk to the Karachi Pressclub on Sunday to urge German textile discounter KIK to pay compensation as per rules of the International Labour Organisation.

For the past few weeks, the families of the Baldia fire victims have been holding protest demonstrations and consultation meetings to discuss the compensation the provincial and federal governments owed to them as well as to push international organisations to honour the agreements made with labour rights groups.

The rally was organised by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and a advocacy group for the families of the victims named the Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association.

Speekers told the participants in the rally that their main concern at the moment was the reluctance of the Germany-based company KIK, to pay compensation.

Head of the association, Mohammad Jabir, who lost his son in the fire, said real estate developer Malik Riaz has announced a compensation which had not yet been paid.
read more.
DAWNnew

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20141219

* German retailer KiK targeted by families of fire victims:

More than two years after 259 garment workers died in a devastating factory fire in Pakistan, victims’ families have issued a legal notice against German retailer KiK demanding it pays compensation.

Relatives of five workers who perished in the Ali Enterprises fire in Baldia Town, Karachi have sent the legal notice to Germany’s biggest discount textile chain through a German lawyer. KiK was the factory’s only known customer.

In January 2013, KiK signed a compensation agreement with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research to make an initial compensation of US$1 million to victims but the company has continuously delayed the payments under various pretexts.

KiK claims to take to control of the enforcement of labour laws and security standards of its suppliers. However, according to reports doors were locked and windows barred at the Ali Enterprises factory with victims unable to escape the fire.

At a Karachi rally organized by IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), and the Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association on 14 December, speakers called on KIK to pay compensation as per International Labour Organization (ILO) standards.
read more.
INDUSRIall

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20141230

* Class-based activism? Sympathy for Shahzeb Khan, apathy for Baldia factory fire victims:

The Global Trade and Labour Compliance conference organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), in collaboration with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Pakistan, took an interesting turn when Advocate Faisal Siddiqi compared the death of Shahzeb Khan to the deaths of the 255 Baldia factory fire victims.

Siddiqi was sharing his insight on occupational safety and health.
He talked about his experience of working with Piler on the Baldia factory fire incident.
According to him, the tragedy took place because of the absence of safety provisions and the selfishness of the owners.
He reminded the audience that the doors of the factory were locked from outside and only one exit was open.

He went on to compare the fire incident on September 11, 2012, with the murder of a DSP’s son, Shahzeb Khan, on December 25 in the same year. He said that he worked on both the cases and what shocked him was that Khan’s trial ended on June 6 last year while the trial of the Baldia factory inferno, which killed 255 people, has not even been initiated.

“The civil society does not have any interest in labourers because of class consciousness,” he said. “This shows the power of the class.” According to him, Khan’s case was given more importance and was resolved in a short time because it involved high profile names and people from higher social class.
read more.

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20150107

* Few lessons learned two years on from Baldia factory fire:

More than two years after a fire tore through a Karachi clothing factory, killing 255 workers, no-one has been prosecuted over the catastrophe, one of the deadliest industrial accidents in Pakistani history.

The abandoned hulk of the Ali Enterprises factory, which supplied cheap clothes to Western retailers, now stands as a monument to a disaster many would rather forget.

A little after 6pm on September 11, 2012, fire broke out in a factory storeroom housing jeans and t-shirts made by the 1,000-strong workforce for stores in Europe.

Trapped inside, one of the workers, Riaz Parveen, rang his wife Nazia.
“He told me, ‘There’s a huge fire in the factory, if I can’t get out of here I won’t be coming home’,” mother-of-three Nazia told AFP tearfully.

Riaz and his brother Rafaqat never came home. Their charred bodies were found in the ashes of the factory.

A judicial probe into the blaze was damning, pointing to a lack of emergency exits, poor safety training for workers, the packing in of machinery and the failure of government inspectors to spot any of these faults.

Two years later the victims’ families have received a total of $1.67 million in immediate compensation paid by the factory owners and the German company KIK, which bought much of the production.

Negotiations are still going on for long-term benefits.

Nazia got the equivalent of $7,000 which allowed her to buy a small plot of land in the city, but she is still angry at the factory owners and their European partners.

“The workers were paid barely 100 rupees for making clothes that sell for much much more money,” she said.

“They’re sucking the blood of the poor. We are illiterate and uneducated and they exploit this weakness. We realised this when they paid us the compensation.”
A murder case was registered against the factory owners, but it has never come to trial.
read more.

_______________________

To be continued.

 

map of Asia

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

20121123
* Prgmea to start skill training programme
* Judge refuses to hear Baldia factory owners’ bail plea

20121127
* Factory fire case Another accused granted bail

20121128
* Factory fire case Another accused granted bail

20121204
* Short circuit, all of Karachi to blame for tragedy, says tribunal
* Court questions ability of civic agencies to deal with emergencies

20121205
* Tribunal recommends closing down police’s forensic department
* Bail pleas to be decided on 7th in factory fire case

20121206
* Families try to prove that loved ones were lost in fire
* KIK & The Karachi Garment factory Fire disaster

20121207
* Workplace safety: Labour dept likely to launch action plan next month
* Tod in der Fabrik: der Preis für billige Kleidung (& KIK) / Death in the factory: the price of cheap clothing (& KIK)
* Certified Safe, a Factory in Karachi Still Quickly Burned

20121208
* Hoping to prevent another Baldia-like tragedy, experts hash out recommendations

20121209
* Baldia Factory Fire: Court dismisses bail application of two security guards

20121210
* Fresh samples for DNA test sent to Islamabad
* Baldia blaze fails to move authorities
* Now the threats

20121211
* SAI: Q & A: Ali Enterprises Fire in Karachi
* Tribunal identifies short circuit as cause

20121213
* Tribunal identifies short circuit as cause
* SHC orders protection for witnesses, evidence to be ‘preserved’

20121217
* Baldia factory tragedy raises questions on fire dept efficiency

20121220
* Court calls for report on forensic tests

20121223
* Jawad composes special song to pay tributes to workers

20121229
* A noble cause: With a new song, singer Jawad Ahmad shifts focus

20130101
* Song for change: Jawad Ahmed sings to bring a revolution for Pakistan’s labourers

20130102
* Jawad touches workers’ hearts with his performance
* Remembering Baldia victims

20130106
* European firm to pay compensation to heirs of Baldia fire victims
* ‘German firm to pay $1m for Baldia factory fire victims’
* Seven more bodies identified through DNA tests
* Suspects to be indicted on 19th in factory blaze case
* Delay in DNA test results: No end to woes of Baldia missing workers’ families

20130111
* SHC seeks proposals to form commission for victims’ compensation
* SHC loses patience with four-month delay
* KIK signs compensation agreement for Victims of Ali Enterprises Fire Tragedy

20130113
* Victims of Baldia factory fire: Parents ask court to expedite DNA tests for unidentified bodies
* Poor man’s justice
* SHC seeks comments on delay in identifying victims

20130114
* Baldia factory fire case: Police drop ‘intentional murder’ charge against suspects

20130116
* Accountability: Baldia fire commission report sought

20130122
* Court calls up prosecutor to argue Baldia factory owners’ bail plea
* Jawad Ahmed pays tribute to victims of Baldia factory fire

20130124
* Case against Baldia factory owners withdrawn
* Baldia Town factory fire: Murder charges against factory owners dropped
* Ebad concerned over factory blaze remark
* Minister changes statement over withdrawal of case against owners
* Sindh Governor calls Zardari, Ashraf over Baldia factory fire case
* Case against Baldia factory owners not to be withdrawn: Zardari

20130125
* PM’s alleged direction in Baldia Factory case
* Senators walk out against PM’s ‘favour’ to Baldia factory owners
* ‘Case against Baldia factory owners not to be withdrawn’
* Treasury bench protests dropping of murder charges on PM’s orders
* PM’s office clarifies he asked murder charges to be re-investigated not withdrawn
* Unless families agree, murder charges can’t be dropped, say Lawyers
* Govt won’t be allowed to rob victims of justice

20130127
* ‘What if it were the PM’s son?’
* Negligence is not murder, insists KCCI
* Fire fallout

20130128
* Tribunal chief alleges negligence on part of management
* SHC issues notices to PM’s principal secretary, others

20130129
* ‘Jobless of Baldia factory fire tragedy being given jobs’
* Baldia fire case SHC issues notices to PM’s PS, others
* Fair probe demanded into Baldia fire inferno
* Notices issued on plea against removal of murder charge in Baldia factory fire case
* SHC reserves order on bail pleas

20130131
* SHC forms body to distribute compensation

20130201
* Pakistani unions demand justice for textile workers

20130203
* Beacon of hope: Compensation in sight for Baldia fire families
* Looking for a way out?: SHC reserves order on Baldia factory owners’ bail plea
* Dna testing: Another body identified
* Murder charge removed without informing prosecutor, court told
* Court seeks prosecutor’s help over supplementary charge sheet

20130204
* Baldia inferno case: a cover-up

20130205
* Another body identified

20130207
* Compensation: Families of Baldia victims hold protest
* Jawad Ahmad launches video for Baldia affectees
* Sunn Lo Kay Hum Mazdoor Hain By Jawad Ahmad- for Baldia affectees

20130208
* Denied closure, families of Baldia factory fire victims agree to mass burial
* Move for mass burial of fire victims slammed
* Trade unionists demand compensation to Baldia factory victims
* Pakistani unions demand justice for textile workers

20130209
* The proletariat in peril

20130210
* In remembrance: Country’s worst industrial disaster comes alive through art
* Artists pay tribute to Baldia fire victims
* Awaaz: The voice of Baldia fire
* After the inferno

20130211
* SHC grants bail to all accused
* SHC releases Baldia factory owners on bail: Lawyer

20130212
* Baldia factory fire Bail granted to all accused
* Murder charges dropped against Baldia garments factory owners
* Baldia factory owners get bail
* Baldia factory owners out of jail on bail
* Seeking redemption: Baldia owners offer groceries in exchange for loyalty
* Improperly framed FIR backfires
* Owners among four given bail in Baldia factory fire case

20130213
* Incomplete preparations: Baldia fire victims’ burial delayed

20130214
* A mass burial for the factory fire’s remaining victims

20130215
* Families urge court to allow mass burial of 21 unidentified bodies
* SHC says no to mass burial

20130216
* SHC seeks explanation from forensic expert, police

20130217
* Court asked to decide on charges
* Hearing of bail pleas put off till 23rd

20130221
* Last rites: Court allows Baldia fire bodies to be buried
* SHC orders burial of 17 unidentifiable Baldia fire victims

20130224
* 18 unidentified bodies to be buried

20130225
* Five months on, 17 unidentified workers laid to rest
* Hoping for closure, families bury unidentified dead

20130228
* No bodies, no compensation for heirs

20130306
* Deadline extended: Baldia applications will be received till March 9

20130313
* Baldia factory fire case: SHC gives one week to identify charred bodies
* SHC wants DNA test reports in seven days

20130315
* SHC orders inspection of Baldia garment factory
* Legal action on fire in textile factory in Karachi, Pakistan

20130320
* LHC constitutes commission to address fire safety

20130327
* Piler deposits $750,000 in account of SHC nazir
* Piler deposits $1 million in SHC account for Baldia fire victims

20130416
* Pleas for help months after Pakistan fire

20130503
* Heirs of 23 victims yet to get compensation

20130721
* European lawyers fight for Baldia fire compensation
* ‘Compensation should equal the price of what the workers produced’

20130907
* Call to make public findings of Baldia fire probe
* Unionists demands: ‘Govt should reveal report on Baldia factory fire

20130908
* Call for making Justice Alavi’s report public

20130910
* Baldia factory fire: ‘Buyers, inspectors equally responsible for catastrophe’
* ‘Owners told workers to salvage goods
* One year after Baldia fire
* Baldia factory fire tragedy: NTUF demands compensation for affected workers as per international standards

20130911
* Victim families’ hope for justice fading away
* Minor heirs to receive compensation with added profit
* Families of the Baldia fire victims move on with their lives but with a heavy heart
* Candlelight vigil marks first anniversary of factory fire
* A year on, no consolation for families of the missing dead
* Safety rules on paper still pending in action
* Still awaiting compensation in Pakistan: one year after Ali Enterprises burnt down
* One Year Later, Remembering Ali Enterprises

20130912
* First anniversary of Baldia factory fire incident observed
* One year after the Baldia inferno
* Baldia factory fire: ‘A year gone by, govt yet to take measures’
* Labour leaders seek measures for safety of workers at factories

20130915
* Woman asks ex-husband to give due share of compensation

20130923
* Factory fire: Baldia families remind PM of his promise to pay Rs300,000
* Baldia factory fire victims still yearning for compensation

20131018
* Buying Better

20140304
* Baldia factory fire: no one’s been found guilty 18 months later

20140805
* Baldia factory: HR body plans action against foreign firm
* European court to be moved for compensation

20140811
* Families of 2012 factory fire victims struggle for compensation
* Withholding rights: Families of Baldia fire victims yet to receive compensation
* Two years later, Baldia fire still burns in hearts

20140820
* Baldia fire tragedy: labour rights activists from Europe due on 27th

20140824
* Two years after factory fire tragedy, trial yet to start

20140903
* Second anniversary: SHC asks about compensation for victims of Baldia inferno
* Factory fire victims to approach court for compensation
* SHC seeks Baldia fire victims’ DNA tests report

20140905
* Baldia fire tragedy likened to 9/11 attacks

20140910
* ‘Baldia tragedy fails to wake up govt to dangers workers face’
* Still waiting
* Workers of the World Unite
* No improvement: Speakers decry lack of progress in workplace safety
* Demand to improve health, safety conditions for workers

20140911
* Baldia factory fire: Two years on, victims’ families struggle to come to terms with their loss
* Baldia factory fire: amid investigation charge-sheet delays
* Authorities still clueless about identity of 17 bodies
* Two years on, Baldia factory owners yet to face justice
* Two years after
* Painting a dismal picture of the working conditions in factories, trade unions demand change
* Two years after fatal fire – KIK still has to pay up
* Families of Baldia fire victims to sue German firm
* Baldia Town factory fire victims still without compensation
* 11 September 2014: Second anniversary of Baldia Factory Fire Tragedy

20140912
* Solidarity rally demands compensation for victims’ families
* Govt exhorted to ensure workplace safety
* Two years on, families of victims yet to get justice and compensation
* ‘Effective unionisation essential for workers’ rights’
* Unsafe garment industry needs trade unions

20140913
* Baldia fire: Families yet to be compensated, records say otherwise
* SHC seeks progress report of DNA tests on unidentified bodies

20140915
* A continuing tragedy

20140916
* KiK stalling on further compensation: Victims prepare to launch lawsuit in Germany

20140923
* Sindh govt prepares first-ever policy on occupational safety and health

20140927
* Contempt notices issued to NFSA, DNA lab chiefs in Baldia factory case
* Forensic agency issued with contempt notice for delaying DNA reports

20140928
* Court orders: SHC issues contempt notices in Baldia factory fire case

20140930
* Burnt bodies
* Bleak working conditions: ‘Industrial tragedies likely to keep occurring’
* Perilous workplace
* Baldia Garment Factory Fire Disaster & the Accountability Campaign Thereafter

20141107
* Quiet burns the fire

20141205
* IO of Baldia fire case changed, families told
* Baldia factory fire: Families demand PM fulfil his promise

20141215
* Baldia factory fire tragedy: German firm urged to pay compensation

20141219
* German retailer KiK targeted by families of fire victims

20141230
* Class-based activism? Sympathy for Shahzeb Khan, apathy for Baldia factory fire victims

20150107
* Few lessons learned two years on from Baldia factory fire

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