PAKISTAN: Ali Enterprises fire victims await compensation
Families of more than 250 workers killed in a fire at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Pakistan are said to be still waiting for compensation, a year after the factory burnt down.
German retailer KiK was the only known buyer of Ali Enterprises garments. The brand agreed in December to pay US$1m in emergency relief, and the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) says most of this money has been distributed to families through a commission established by the Sindh High Court.
However, the December agreement said the amount paid by Kik is not payment in full, and will be subtracted from the final compensation agreed upon.
Investigations into the fire found that workers were trapped inside the overcrowded factory by blocked exits and barred windows. Yet just weeks before, auditors from RINA, an Italian audit company contracted by the Social Accountability Acreditation Services SAAS, visited that factory and awarded it an SA8000 certificate.
An investigation carried out into the audit failings showed that fire safety certificates collected by auditors had been issued by an entirely fictitious company. Auditors failed to notice an entire mezzanine floor where many contract workers were employed, the CCC said.
Long term compensation needs to be negotiated with all involved stakeholders, employers, audit bodies and possible other buyers, Kik included. According to the CCC, SAI, SAAS and Rina have, to date, refused to enter into negotiations on compensation with labour rights groups.
"The deaths of hundreds of workers at Ali Enterprises has highlighted, in the most tragic way, that audits do not protect workers rights. Worse, it has shown that these organisations have no regard for those workers it claims to be benefiting" said Sam Maher from the Clean Clothes Campaign.
"The auditing organisations have to be held accountable for their severe negligence and must take their share of responsibility for compensating the victims."
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