Concerns have been raised about Pakistans garment sector

Concerns have been raised about Pakistan's garment sector

Concerns have been raised over health and safety standards in Pakistan's garment sector, after the roof of a garment factory collapsed killing four workers and injuring 16 others.

The incident at the Jeans Company Pvt Ltd in Lahore, which is said to produce clothing for UK retailers Primark, Topman, Burton, New Look and River Island, happened earlier this month. It is understood River Island products account for a very small proportion of the factory's production. 

Although the factory employs 1,150 people, only 40 workers were present when the roof caved in as most had left to attend Friday prayers, according to global union IndustriAll.

The roof of the factory was in a poor condition, built with canes and mud. A number of chemical-filled drums had recently been stored on the rooftop, which IndustriAll says could be the reason for the collapse. Six people, including the factory manager, were arrested after the incident.

“Garment factories are still dangerous in Pakistan, and in Bangladesh garment companies are making much too slow progress in improving factory safety,” says IndustriAll general secretary Jyrki Raina. “There is still too much complacency among global brands.”

IndustriAll affiliates in Pakistan have raised concerns over health and safety issues in the country's garment sector.

Punjab has pledged PKR500,000 (US$4,800) in compensation for deceased workers and PKR100,000 for injured workers, while Pakistani trade unions are working to ensure the deceased workers’ families receive PKR400,000 of their insurance claim.

Nadeem Parwaz, general secretary of the Pakistan Textile, Garments and Leather Workers' Federation, is also working with the families of the deceased workers so that support can be provided to them, according to IndustriAll.

Arcadia, owner of the Topman and Burton brands, and Primark have not yet responded to requests for comment.