Baldia factory fire victims move court against German brand

Published March 14, 2015
Heirs of the victims would also sue the Italian company, RINA, which had issued the social audit certificate to Ali Enterprises.—AFP/File
Heirs of the victims would also sue the Italian company, RINA, which had issued the social audit certificate to Ali Enterprises.—AFP/File

KARACHI: A case has been filed in a German court for the payment of compensation to the families of the Baldia factory fire victims, while a similar case will be filed in an Italian court against the firm that had issued a social audit certificate to the factory.

Four heirs of the victims filed the case against the German brand, KIK, in the Regional Court of Dortmund, seeking compensation of 30,000 Euros for each of the bereaved families.

The development was shared with the media by representatives of Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association and labour leaders at Karachi Press Club on Friday.

Know more: Rangers’ report blames MQM for Baldia factory fire

Speaking at a press conference, Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation said that the case was filed as the German brand, KIK, whose products were produced at the Ali Enterprise, had refused to pay some remaining amount of the compensation. He said that 15 heirs of the victims would also sue the Italian company, RINA, which had issued the social audit certificate to Ali Enterprises, in a court in Milan, Italy within the next few days.

At the local level, a case had already been filed with the Commissioner of Compensation, Sindh, for the payment of group insurance and gratuity to the workers and their families, said the deputy secretary general of the NTUF.

More than 250 workers were killed and many others injured by the fire at the Ali Enterprises factory in Baldia Town on Sept 11, 2012. It is considered to be the worst industrial fire in country’s history.

Compensation yet to be paid

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, during his visit to the factory following the incident in 2012 when he was not prime minister, had announced that the Punjab government would pay Rs200,000 compensation to the heirs of each victim, said senior labour leader Usman Baloch.

But despite the passage of over two years, the compensation had not been paid to the families so far, he said.

Similarly, Malik Riaz, a real estate tycoon, had announced compensation for the victims but it was yet to be paid to the heirs of over 110 victims, Mr Baloch said.

Even the chief minister of Sindh was yet to fulfil his promise of a plot and government job for the heirs of the fire victims, he added.

Talking about the DNA analysis of fire victims, Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association leader Mohammad Jabir said that DNA certificates of more than 23 workers had not been issued so far. He demanded immediate issuance of the certificates.

The speakers also demanded that safety and health conventions of International Labour Organization be implemented to protect the lives of the workers. They said rights of workers be safeguarded as a special status had been achieved through the GSP Plus from the European Union.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2015

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