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September 20, 2012

Baldia factory fire victims still not compensated

Top Story

September 20, 2012

None of the families of Baldia factory fire victims have been paid compensation so far, as the government is yet to issue notification for the release of promised funds, The News learnt on Tuesday.
Several announcements were made to pay compensation to the legal heirs of the victims of Ali Enterprises’ fire, who either lost their lives or suffered injuries in the factory inferno.
Around 300 workers were killed and a number of others were injured in the September 11 fire but no one has so far been compensated. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf had announced Rs 4 lacs compensation for each deceased and Rs 1 lac for each injured.
During his visit to Karachi on September 14, PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif had announced Rs 3 lacs donation for each victim and Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah had also announced the compensation of the same amount for the victims.
It was learnt that since the victim workers were not registered with the Social Security Institute or the Employees Old-Age Benefit Institution (EOBI), they could not be compensated as per the existing rules and procedure.
In case of death of a registered worker, the Workers Welfare Fund usually pays Rs 600,000 compensation to his/her legal heirs. As per the procedure the employer concerned signs a document to certify that the deceased was his employee and he also contributes his share of compensation of Rs 300,000 per worker. And the victim family is issued the cheque of Rs 600,000 within 15 days.
The EOBI also starts releasing pension amount in case of the death of a registered worker.
However, this was not the case with the victims of Ali Enterprises, as the Labour Department and other government functionaries concerned have turned blind eye on the majority of the industrial workers, particularly the garment factory in question.
When contacted, Deputy General Secretary of National Trade Union Federation Nasir Mansoor said that no notification has been issued by the

government with regard to paying compensation to the Ali Enterprises’ victims.
He said that the politicians were still playing point-scoring game over the deaths of workers instead of doing the real job of extending help to the distressed families.
“Nawaz Sharif paid visit to Karachi and Asif Ali Zardari paid visit to the burnt factory in Lahore, and this is the bottom line that no one is sincerely concerned about the deaths of labourers in real sense,” he said.
Mansoor further said that the tragedy has also exposed the lacunas in some of the International Labour Organization-funded projects which were meant for the welfare of the workers.
Elaborating, he said that millions of rupees Occupational Health and Safety project was launched years ago but this tragedy revealed that it had no impact on the working environment of the labourers.
He said that attempts were made to turn the incident into an extortion case instead of taking it up as a matter of extreme negligence, which ultimately made the factory a death trap for the workers.
He said that the workers’ representatives have also reservations over the formation of the commission to probe the tragedy since no workers’ representative was included in it.

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