Pakistani widow of Ali Enterprises factory fire visits Germany to appeal to German Retailer KiK

From 23 to 27 November 2015, Shahida Parveen and Farhat Fatima from Pakistan will visit Berlin to draw attention to the global campaign demanding KiK provide long term compensation to the families affected by the Ali Enterprises factory fire in 2012. Shahida Parveen, a widow of one of the workers who was killed in the fire, intends to deliver her #MakeKikPay petition to KiK representatives during her stay in Germany. She will be accompanied by Farhat Fatima from the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), an organisation that signed a legal agreement with KiK for a negotiated settlement of long-term compensation to the survivors and victims’ families of the Ali enterprises tragedy.

On 11 September 2012, a fire broke out in the garment factory Ali Enterprises in Karachi, Pakistan. At least 254 workers were killed and many more injured as doors were locked, escape routes were blocked and windows were barred. Many survivors could only escape by jumping from the upper floors, leading to broken limbs and head injuries. The factory fire left many children without their parents, families without their loved ones and injured workers without the ability to earn their own income.

At the time of the tragedy, the Ali Enterprises factory was solely producing jeans for German low-cost retailer KiK. Following the disaster, in December 2012, KiK signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER).  Despite the fact that it has been over three years since the Ali Enterprises factory burned to the ground, KiK has yet to fulfill the terms of the legal agreement, notably to engage in good faith negotiations to determine long-term compensation for the victims and to pay US$ 250,000 for future labour standard enforcement.

The needless delay in long term compensation has negatively impacted the families of those who were killed or injured in the fire, and now many are struggling to make ends meet.  Widow Shahida Parveen, who has three young sons, explains how she came to start her online Avaaz community petition: “I’m sharing my story because after all that we have been through, none of us should continue to suffer. And, yet, by denying us long-term compensation, KiK is prolonging the suffering of all of the victims of the factory fire. We demand justice. We demand long-term compensation in order to secure a decent future for all of our children – their education, housing, health, and general up bringing.”

Shahida Parveen’s global petition is supported by numerous international groups and labour unions, including the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), and global unions IndustriALL and UNI.  The CCC with its partners IndustriALL and UNI have campaigned for compensation for the victims of the Ali Enterprises fire since the disaster.

During their stay in Berlin, Shahida Parveen and Farhat Fatima will meet with politicians, media and other concerned groups. They are also scheduled to briefly meet with KiK representatives in order for Shahida Parveen to deliver the global petition. 

KiK is the only company that is linked to the three most deadly garment industry disasters in recent history: the Ali Enterprises factory fire in Pakistan; the Tazreen factory fire in Bangladesh (2012); and the Rana Plaza factory building collapse, also in Bangladesh (2013). Of these three disasters, KiK contributed towards long term compensation for both disasters in Bangladesh. 

Farhat Fatima of PILER says: “This is the worst industrial incident in the history of Pakistan. It is unacceptable that families are still waiting for long-term compensation despite the fact that KiK has signed an agreement to negotiate. KiK has addressed compensations in cases of other factory tragedies. We hope that after our visit in Germany KiK will finally agree to reach an arrangement to settle long-term compensation for all the victims.”