The Ali Enterprises fire
On 11 September 2012, the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan, burned down, killing over 250 workers. Only weeks before the fire, the building had been certified by a private social social auditing firm as compliant with international labour standards. In contrast to the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh less than a year later, the catastrophe in Pakistan did not spur apparel brands to take meaningful collective action. In the years since the horrific fire, little progress has been made on factory safety in Pakistan and many garment factories in the country continue to be death traps.
The International Accord
For this reason, unions and labour rights organisations in Pakistan have followed the factory safety developments in Bangladesh after the Rana Plaza collapse with close interest. In the past years, they have reached consensus among a large group of stakeholders that introduction of a binding programme based on the Bangladesh Accord is needed to address the considerable safety challenges in Pakistan’s garment industry. With the announcement of an International Accord by brands and unions last week with more than 90 companies already signed on, this prospect now seems closer than ever.
Ahead of the Ali Enterprises anniversary, unionists and labour activists will take conduct a media briefing elaborating on the legacy of the fire and what the International Accord could mean for Pakistan.
Date: Thursday, 9 September 2021
Time: 7-8pm BST (BD) / 6-7pm PKT / 3-4pm CET / 2-3pm BST (UK) / 9-10am EDT
Registration link: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_mRc_Y7W3QISVLJz6aNBB4A
Kalpona Akter (President, Bangladesh Garment & Industrial Workers Federation and Executive Director, Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity) will introduce the International Accord.
Nasir Mansoor (General Secretary, National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan) will discuss the fire at the Ali Enterprises factory.
Saeeda Khatoon (Chairperson, Ali Enterprises Fire Affectees Association, Pakistan) will discuss the last nine years of suffering experienced by the survivors of the Ali Enterprises fire and the families of the deceased workers.
Karamat Ali (Executive Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research) will discuss current fire and building safety hazards in garment and textile factories in Pakistan.
Zehra Khan (General Secretary, Home-Based Women Workers’ Federation, Pakistan) will discuss safety risks in factories during the pandemic and how the Accord could help address this situation.
Khalid Mahmood (Director, Labour Education Foundation, Pakistan) will discuss the work of the labour movement in Pakistan over the past five years on fire and building safety and the importance of a swift expansion of the International Accord to Pakistan.
Scott Nova (Executive Director, Worker Rights Consortium) will discuss why the Accord model has been successful at addressing factory safety where private social auditing has failed.