Textile and Garment Workers in Pakistan Win Critical Safeguards With New Multi Stakeholder Accord

Resistance: Pakistan Garment Safety

Resistance: Pakistan Garment Safety

The Pakistan Accord on Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry signed in December 2022 is designed to prevent tragedies like the Ali Enterprises factory fire in 2012 in Karachi, Pakistan that killed some 260 workers. It is modeled on a similar initiative that was created in Bangladesh after the Rana Plaza Fire that killed over 1,100.

"If enough brands sign, workers will not have to fear for their lives when going to work and will know who to appeal to when their factory is unsafe. The strength of the Accord is in the fact that unions have equal power to corporations in its decision-making.” - Nasir Mansoor, General Secretary of the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan.

Ali Enterprises Fire

Over 260 people died of smoke inhalation when a fire destroyed the Ali Enterprises garment factory complex on September 11, 2012 in Baldia town, Karachi, Pakistan. Kik, a German discount clothing company based in Bönen, Germany, the only known client of the garment complex, was sued for failing to set up proper safety protocols. 

“The head of the firefighting operations in Karachi has noted that the factory was dangerous, flimsily built and had no emergency exits. Why did all of that escape official attention earlier?” – Zohra Yusuf, chairwoman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Rana Plaza Disaster

Just seven months later 1,133 people were killed on April 24, 2013, when a building housing five garment factories at Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed. It was hardly the first such disaster: the Garib & Garib Sweater Factory fire in Dhaka in February 2010 killed 21, and the Tazreen Fashion garment factory fire in Dhaka in November 2012 killed 112 workers.

Bangladesh Safety Accord 

Less than a month after the Rana Plaza collapse, over 40 garment companies, Bangladeshi and global union federations signed the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which created an extensive training program, complaints mechanism, an independent inspection program and democratically elected health and safety committees in factories.

Lawsuits against Kik

Meanwhile multiple lawsuits have been launched against Kik in Germany. Kik agreed to pay a total of €4.7 million to families of the victims in 2016. In 2019 a court in Dortmund rejected a different lawsuit stating that the statute of limitations had expired. Kik continues to refuse accountability for the fire, and has failed to negotiate with victims’ families over long term compensation. 

Pakistan Safety Accord

In December 2022, 188 brands and retailers signed the Pakistan Accord on Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry, a legally binding agreement with unions like IndustriaALL and UNI Gloal Union. Kik is among the companies that have signed the Accord. 

Company Response

“I welcome the fact that we are close to a breakthrough with the Accord. I appeal to all those involved to now quickly clear the way. With the planned safety training, grievance mechanisms and health committees, we can reach over one million textile workers in 700 factories.” - Patrick Zahn, Kik CEO.

This is #31 in our series of Instagram infographics on resistance against corporate power.

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