KARACHI: 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.
Trade Unionist Syed Hameed Ahmed, expressing his dissatisfaction over the role of the NGOs, said, “In the Ali Enterprises incident, the NGOs made millions. They have merely conducted rallies and not done anything practical for the betterment of the labourers’ lives. Conducting a seminar at a five star hotel does not benefit labourers,” remarked Ahmed. He added that none of the NGOs or trade unions had tried to help the victims’ families in getting jobs so that they could make ends meet.
Meanwhile, the NTUF supporters in Hyderabad staged a demonstration to express their solidarity with the victims and their families on Wednesday. Speaking at the occasion, the union’s provincial leader, Iqbal Qaimkhani, expressed regret that despite the passage of a year, the government could neither arrest those responsible now ensure the payment of compensation for those affected by the catastrophe. “More lamentable is the fact that the factors which allow such incidents to happen remain unchanged,” he asserted.
He claimed that the legislative and executive measures, required for the proper regulation of industries – regular inspections, safety measures and protection for the labourers, were still missing.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2013.