To avert occurrence of any unfortunate accident incidents like the one at Karachi’s Baldia-based Ali Enterprise, which caused 300 workers to loose their lives, representatives of several labour and civil society organizations’ in Pakistan including garment workers’ representatives have sought immediate resumption of health and safety-related inspections of industries, which have been stopped for past several years.
During a press meet, the representatives demanded that the Pakistan Labour Department should also carry out inspections of garment-export firms that have obtained social audit certifications from international inspection organizations, which serves as a substitute for inspection by the Labour Department.
Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research’s (Piler) Karamat Ali informed that the domestic garment-exporting firms have been provided millions of rupees for obtaining SA-8000 certification from international certification companies.
Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) informed that alongside Ali Enterprises which obtained social audit certificate from an Italy-based company, over 100 other garment exporting firms of Pakistan have also obtained SA-8000 certificates from such firms.
He said the Government should start with carrying out audit and inspection of all these firms to assess the health and safety standards maintained by these firms. Also, he added that the Factories Act, 1934 requires the Labour Department to carry out inspection of all factories to ensure proper adherence to health and safety norms, and to check availability of safety equipments.
Mr. Ali said some of the international workers’ rights organizations like Clean Clothes Campaign are even pushing global buyers to accept responsibility to compensate workers of their major suppliers for the loss suffered due to mishaps, like some of their counterparts did in Bangladesh and Turkey.
Working together with the labour rights organizations of Pakistan, the Clean Clothes Campaign has spotted a major buyer from Ali Enterprise and is trying to convince it to fulfil its obligation.
Though the owner remains to be the person actually accountable, global buyers too have some responsibilities, Mr. Ali said.