Baldia factory fire: Retailer comes under fierce criticism

Published: March 14, 2015


KARACHI: Last week, a few residents of Berlin, Germany, barged into an outlet of KiK – the German retailer that sourced products from the ill-fated Baldia factory – and damaged their store, saying that their clothes were being made with the blood of Pakistanis.

This incident was shared by the deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), Nasir Mansoor, while speaking at Karachi Press Club on Friday.

According to Mansoor, the German company was supposed to compensate the families of the victims, but they paid only Rs1 million as initial amount and then backed out. “That’s why we have now filed the case of pain and suffering against the German brand, KiK, in the High Court of Dortmund, Germany, demanding a compensation of 30,000 Euros for each family.”

He further told the press that German lawyer Dr Remo Klinger will represent them in the German court, while different labour organisations, namely European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Medico International, have also been assisting them.

Italian company Registro Italiano Navale (RINA) that had issued the social audit certificate to the Ali Enterprise has also been sued by 15 heirs of the Baldia factory fire victims and NTUF in a court of Milan, Italy.

“For this purpose, the necessary documents will be deposited with the Italian embassy in Pakistan next week,” said Mansoor. He also pointed out that this company has also certified 99 other companies in Pakistan and has given a clean chit to them that their factories are safe. “Are we heading towards another calamity?” he asked.

According to Mansoor, the cost of each case filed is Rs160,000 which will be paid by the ECCHR and Medico International. He further demanded the DNA certificates of more than 23 workers which have yet to be issued. “Despite the court order, these certificates have not been issued,” he said. “Of these 23, 17 bodies have already been buried in Mawach Goth Graveyard against different numbers.”

Mansoor was also critical of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who was in opposition in the year 2012 when he announced that the Punjab government will pay compensation of Rs0.2 million to each heir. “It has yet to be paid,” he sighed.  Around 100 families have yet to receive cheques from him. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah also failed to fulfil his promise to provide the heirs with plots and government jobs.”

Keeping in view the dismal situation, Mansoor announced that NTUF and Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association have decided to launch a movement in collaboration with other local and international labour organisations next month on the second anniversary of the tragedy of Rana Plaza, Bangladesh.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2015.

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