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Victims’ families to get monthly installments of compensation

By Our Correspondent
May 20, 2018

The Baldia factory fire victims will start receiving their monthly installments of a long-term compensation arrangement from German company KiK from in a week, victims’ representatives said in a joint statement on Saturday.

At least 259 labourers, including women, perished in a massive blaze that had erupted in the garments factory, Ali Enterprises, in Baldia Town on September 11, 2012.

Saeeda Khatoon of Ali Enterprises Fire Affectees Association and Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation said in a joint statement that at the start of the payments the victims would receive lump sum their pending installments of the previous 20 months and then from August monthly installments would begin.

Khatoon told The News that according to the agreement, the parents of each victim would receive Rs7,545, a widow or widower having no child would receive the same amount, those widows/widowers who have one child would get Rs10,060 and those who had two or more children would get Rs13,138.

She added that those widows/widowers who had remarried would not get anything but their children would get Rs3,500 a month. The payments would be made through SESSI. So far, 209 accounts have been verified. Twenty more accounts need completion of formalities.

The payments are part of a long-term arrangement for compensation, around $5.2 million, that KiK, which is partially accused of overlooking workers’ safety at the Ali Enterprises garments factory in Baldia Town, agreed to pay to the victims in September 2016 after reaching an agreement with IndustriALL Global Union and Clean Clothes Campaign that represented the victims. It was mediated by the International Labor Organisation.

Khatoon and Mansoor called that development “a historic moment” for the workers’ movement in the country and thanked international actors who played their role in making this happen.

They also welcomed the making of an oversight committee that includes the representatives of victims, NTUF, Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research, Sindh Employees Social Security Institution, employers’ federation and government representatives. It will be headed by the Sindh labour secretary.

“It is the first time in Pakistan that a company is paying compensation to the victims of an incident under the [relevant] ILO convention. It has set a precedent,” they said. “Still, there are thousands of workplaces here where the workers safety is almost zero. Because of this, accidents involving serious casualties are occurring frequently.”

They added that Pakistan was a signatory of dozens of ILO conventions and beneficiary of GSP plus status, yet it had nearly failed to implement the workers safety and well-being measures. They deplored that it was unfortunate that brands accused of workers’ rights exploitation were continuing with their malpractices in collusion with the authorities.

They demanded that workplaces’ safety be ensured and international and local brands made to adher to the laws. They added that an international accord like the one occurred in Bangladesh after its Rana Plaza tragedy in Dhaka should reached in Pakistan among brands, trade unions and employers so that the industrial accidents could be controlled.