KARACHI – Leading unions and labour groups in Pakistan have called for the country’s own safety ‘Accord’ similar to that in Bangladesh. They claim many factories supplying to Western brands have serious safety defects similar to those uncovered in the aftermath of Rana Plaza and are urging brands to support a Pakistan Accord for Fire and Building Safety.
Union and labour groups from Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and other cities met on the sixth anniversary of the Ali Enterprises fire in Pakistan which killed more than 250 workers. The meeting was jointly organised by the Pakistan Institute if Education and Research, the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan and the Labour Education Foundation.
As well as finding out about the work of the Bangladesh Accord, meeting participants noted the “many similarities between the lack of workplace safety prior to the Bangladesh Accord and the current lack of implementation of fire and building safety standards in garment and textile factories and mills in Pakistan.”
“We continue to hear incidents of workers being killed or injured in factories, demonstrating a continued lack of implementation of the safety law as well as a lack of responsibility from brands,” the labour groups said in a joint statement.
“In major industrial zones of Pakistan … many buildings are at risk of fire and other safety challenges and workers do not have a safe escape route during a fire. A number of these factories are supplying to major international brands and retailers.”
The labour groups will now develop more detailed proposals for the nature and shape of a Pakistan Accord and these will be shared with international partners.
Much more on this story in our next printed magazine.