Demand to improve health, safety conditions for workers

September 9, 2014 Off By Web Desk

Karachi: Despite sacrifice of 259 workers in the tragedy of Baldia factory fire, the industries and factories of Pakistan still are virtual killing fields for workers and to change this sad situation the working class of Pakistan has to become unite and struggle for their due rights, compelling the government, industrialists and international brands to stop the mass murder of workers in lust of their profit-greed, said speakers of a press conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC) here Wednesday.

The press conference was arranged by National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF) on the second anniversary of the Baldia factory fire tragedy in which 259 workers were burnt alive.

Nasir Mansoor, Deputy General Secretary of NTUF said the factory fire of Ali Enterprises, Baldia Karachi was the worst industrial incident in the history of Pakistan in which 259 labours were perished alive two years ago on September 11. The sad accident is a living example of the worst working conditions in Pakistani factories and sheer lack of safety measures. Despite this shameful incident of Ali Enterprises fire the government and other stakeholders have failed to make improvement in working conditions of Pakistani factories and mills and a large number of labours working in different sectors particularly textiles, garments and sports goods are compelled to work in very dangerous environment, risking their lives.

Mohammad Jabbir, Organizer of Factory affectees Association said that Almost 95percent workers in Pakistan are not registered with social security and pension institutions and they do not even posses their appointment letters. In 90percent factories of Pakistan labours work for 10 to 12 hours a day and they do not get the minimum wages. Despite the verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the contract system of labour recruitment is in vogue in industrial, financial and trade sectors of the country. These are the basic root cause of tragedies like Baldia Fire.

Veteran Labour Leader Usman Baloch said Pakistan after getting the GSP+ status is bound to safeguard the basic rights of labours, but practically in many sectors workers cannot form their trade unions, while the industrialists are free to form their forums and association to ensure getting their vested interest. From the labour force of 60million, hardly 2.8percent labours are linked to trade unions.

Rafiq Baloch of Pakistan Workers Confederation (PWC) said that the local and international labour and rights organizations have been supporting the heirs of Baldia factory fire victims and all preparations have been completed to sue social audit issuing Italian company RINA and German brand KIK. They said today when we are holding this press conference here, three major trade unions of Germany, parliament members, writers, intellectuals, artists and social workers are issuing a joint appeal to save the lives of factory workers and ensure basic rights of workers. The copies of this appeal are attached here with. They have also appealed to extend legal and financial assistant to the heirs of workers martyred in Rana Plaza Bangladesh and Ali Enterprises Pakistan tragedies.

The speakers demanded that the government should endorse and implement the ILO safety related convention, The heirs should be given the announced compensations and assistance, The DNA report of remaining died workers should be handed over to victims families, commission report on the tragedy should be made public, Labour inspection should be started in factories, Violation of local and international labour laws in the grab of social audit certificates should be stopped, All labour rights as per GSP+ should be immediately implemented, A memorial park should be established at Ali Enterprises, All factories should be registered under factory act and workers issued appointment letters by ending contract system, All factories should register their labours with social security and EOBI and Eight hours working day should be implemented in all factories.

It was announced that labours would hold a big rally in front of Ali Enterprises on September 11, 2014 at 3:30pm.

The speakers included Manzoor Razi, Railways Workers Union; Zehra Khan, General Secretary Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF); Riaz Abbasi, National Trade Union Federation, SITE Labour Forum; Gul Rehman, Organizer Workers’ Rights Movement and Ramzan Memon, Hari Leader.

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