Pakistan has become a country where upholding labour laws and constitutional rights has become next to impossible, said speakers of a gathering held in front of the Ali Enterprises factory in memory of the martyrs of Baldia factory fire on the sixth anniversary of the incident on Tuesday.
The event was organised by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Ali Enterprises Factory Fire Affectees Association (AEFFAA) and presided over by AEFFAA leader Saeeda Khatoon. Families of the martyred labourers, injured and representatives of local and international labour organisations attended the event.
The speakers said workplaces were still unsafe as the government, owners of industries and international brands had learnt no lesson from the Baldia factory fire tragedy despite the passage of six years.
They said six years have already passed but the heirs of the martyred and maimed workers were still waiting for justice despite knocking on the doors of courts at local and international level. They decried that labourers are forced to work in the worst conditions in factories and workplaces. There is no visible change in working condition standards. Resultantly, industrial accidents are being reported almost daily and precious lives of workers are being lost, they alleged, giving examples of recent incidents in ship breaking, mining and textile and garment factories.
Explaining the difficulty in attaining justice, the speakers said the institutions formed by the government for welfare of labourers have failed to discharge their duties and are only safeguarding the interests of employers. The working conditions in all industrial entities, incuding garment and textile factories that make goods for international brands, are worse than slavery conditions, they said, adding that the owners of local factories, international brands, and the government departments related to labour have made an anti-worker nexus; resultantly, hardly 1% of 6.8 billion workers enjoy the right to make trade unions.
It was shared that the in the next phase of the Baldia tragedy victims’ struggle, more than 500 affectees have prepared to file a suit against the Italian social audit company RINA.
The affected factory should be razed and a labour training centre should be built there in memory of the martyrs, they suggested.