One year on from the tragic death of over 250 garment workers, the victims’ families still await full redress.

Still awaiting compensation in Pakistan: one year after Ali Enterprises burnt down

  • Families of more then 250 workers killed during fire still awaiting full and long-term compensation

  • Brands and auditing organisations called on to take responsibility for garment factory fire

German cost-cutter KiK discusses compensation for the victims of the collapse at Rana Plaza during the meeting in Geneva on Septmember 12th 2013, meanwhile survivors of the fire at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan, still await full, long-term and fair compensation. German retailer KiK remains the only known buyer of Ali Enterprises garments.

When the fire broke out during the late shift, the workers were sewing jeans for KiK, which were left strewn around the debris. The fire killed more then 250 people and left many injured.

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 Accreditation Services SAAS, visited that factory and awarded it an SA8000 certificate. The SA8000 system, run by Social Accountability International (SAI) is supposed to ascertain that workplaces meet international labour standards and local laws, including on fire and building safety. 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. Another auditing company UL Responsible Sourcing also audited the factory in 2011 and 2007.

In December 2012, following sustained public pressure, Kik signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Pakistani workers’ rights organisation Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research (PILER), in which they agreed to pay one million US dollars in emergency relief. Most of this has now been distributed to families through a commission established by the Sindh High Court. According to the December MoU the amount paid by Kik is not payment in full, and will be subtracted from the final compensation agreed upon.

Long term compensation will be negotiated with all involved stakeholders, employers, audit bodies and possible other buyers, Kik included. SAI, SAAS and Rina have, to date, refused to enter into negotiations on compensation with labour rights groups.

One year on, PILER, together the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF) and other organisations hold a rally with the victims’ families and labour and trade unions with protests also held in Islamabad, Lahore and Multan. 

The Clean Clothes Campaign is calling on all stakeholders, including social auditing organisations SAI and Rina, KiK, the Pakistani government and the employer, to actively participate in negotiations to provide full, long-term and fair compensation to the families of those killed and those workers injured in the fire.

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” says 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. The Clean Clothes Campaign will, together with its partners, continue to take action to make sure that the long term compensation is paid.”

Free Somyot

WHO IS SOMYOT PRUKSAKASEMSUK?

Thai labour rights activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk was arrested on 30 April 2011 following publication of two articles in his magazine which the authorities claim offended the country’s ruling monarch.

Somyot has been accused of lèse majesté, the crime of insulting the king that carries up to 30 years of imprisonment. Lèse majesté has been widely used to silence labour and pro-democracy groups in Thailand.

After 21 months in arbitrary detention and being refused bail on ten separate applications, on 23 January 2013, Somyot was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment. He was convicted by the Bangkok Criminal Court under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (the lèse majesté law), the crime of insulting the monarchy.

BACKGROUND TO THE CASE
Somyot is founder of the Center for Labour and International Solidarity Thailand (CLIST) and has worked with the Clean Clothes Campaign on numerous campaigns and Urgent Appeals. He worked as a project coordinator for the International Chemical, Engineering and Mining Union Federation (ICEM) before devoting his time more exclusively to journalism and human-rights activism.

In 2010 Somyot was arrested and detained for three weeks for holding a news conference where he and others called for the resignation of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva following the bloody repression of a 3 month long anti-government “red-shirt” protest during which 90 people were killed and 2000 injured.

Somyot was arrested again in April 2011  on charges of lèse majesté and has been charged with the “publication and dissemination” of two articles in the journal Voice of Thaksin, of which he was the acting editor.

OUR DEMAND
The Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland is calling upon the Thai authorities to honour its numerous commitments to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to drop all charges against Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and all other human rights defenders detained under lèse majesté.

We also ask, more generally that all human rights defenders in Thailand are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of restrictions, including judicial harassment.

Read Somyot’s letter from prison here

For more information and regular updates from the trial, please go to: www.freesomyot.wordpress.com

ACT NOW

Sign and send your own letter to the Thai Prime Minister below calling for the immediate release of Somyot and all other human rights defenders detained under the lèse majesté laws.

[emailpetition id=”1″]

Bangladeshi Labour Right Activist Murdered.

Aminul Islam
Aminul Islam


WHO IS AMINUL ISLAM
Aminul Islam is a Bangladeshi labour rights activist and former garment worker who was tortured and murdered in Dhaka on April 4 2012, his body was dumped outside the capital city and found by local police. To date no one has been arrested or brought to trial for his murder.

BACKGROUND TO THE CASE
Aminul 39,  worked for the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) and the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF).

In June 2010 Aminul was detained by officials of the Bangladesh National Intelligence Service (NSI) where  he reported he was subjected to severe and repeated beatings.

On the evening of the 4th, after having observed a police van parked outside, Aminul and a colleague had closed the local BCWS office fearing harassment or arrest. He was last seen alive leaving his office to meet with a worker who had called seeking assistance. According to the police report, Aminul Islam’s body bore signs of brutal torture.

BANGLADESH AND LABOUR RIGHTS
Repression against trade unionists and labour rights activists in Bangladesh is a serious problem, and worker protests have been met with violence many times. In particular, the wage protests of 2010 resulted in hundreds of arrests of workers and trade unionists including Aminul himself.

According to Aminul, during his detention in 2010 he was subjected to severe beatings at the hands of the National Intelligence Service (NSI) who according to his  statement,were looking to force false testimony incriminating his colleagues.

Dozens of labour leaders are still facing charges of instigating riots and related activities; charges regarded as baseless by international labour and human rights organisations.

OUR DEMAND
CCC is calling for the Bangladeshi authorities to launch an immediate and impartial investigation into the killing and for them to work tirelessly to bring the perpetrators to justice. We are also calling on supporters worldwide, including EU missions and other organisations to generate similar pressure on the Bangladeshi authorities in order to stop the culture of impunity that has led to this tragic murder.

Send a letter to the Bangladesh government now calling for justice for Aminul!

 

 

 

Deadly Denim. The story behind your killer jeans.

SANDBLASTING IN THE DENIM INDUSTRY
Sandblasting is a process applied to give jeans their worn-out look. The process blasts denim with sand at high pressure to wear away the top surface of the textile and has long been practiced in the global garment industry. The effect became increasingly popular in jean trends over the past decade adding considerable value to the final product.
While other techniques such as stone-washing or enzyme treatments result in the same effects, the relative low cost, simple techniques and more importantly the speed that orders can be completed, sandblasting remains a favoured process in the fast fashion industry.

 

SILICOSIS
Sandblasting has long been linked to the fatal lung disease silicosis. According to the World Health Organisation it is one of the oldest occupational diseases and still kills thousands of people every year, everywhere in the world.

It is an incurable lung disease caused by inhalation of dust containing free crystalline silica. It is irreversible and, moreover, the disease progresses even when exposure stops. Extremely high exposures are associated with much shorter latency and more rapid disease progression.

 

DEADLY DENIM. THE REAL COST OF KILLER JEANS

Sandblasting was traditionally a process used in the mining and construction industry and strict restrictions and regulations have been imposed on these industries since the ILO/WHO International Programme on the Global Elimination of Silicosis, launched in 1995.

But while miners and construction workers could be expected to develop silicosis after 15 to 20 years of exposure, due to the lack of regulations, health and safety standards and the intensity of production, silicosis has been diagnosed in garment workers after as little as 6 months exposure.

 

DEADLY DENIM REPORT 2012

As a result of the Clean Clothes Campaign’s 2010 ‘Killer Jeans’ campaign, many companies have banned the use of sandblasting in their clothing lines, but a new CCC report reveals that regardless of whether a brand has ‘banned’ sandblasting or not, sandblasting – both manual and mechanical – is still commonly used.

Download the CCC Deadly Denim report here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CALL FOR ACTION

The Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland is asking;

Retailers to publicly ban the use of sandblasting in their supply chains .

WHO / ILO to recognise the garment industry in its Programme on the Global Ellimination of Silicosis

For the Irish government to ban the importation of sandblasted denim into Ireland and to propose the wider EU import ban of the same during it’s EU presidency in 2013.

Support our call for the Irish Government to stand up for the lives of garment workers around the world.

Copy, paste  and send the below e-mail to your local TD

 

Dear Sir / Madam,

I am a supporter of the Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland, a coalition organisation set up in 2010 by Re-dress, Trócaire, MANDATE, ICTU and Cómhlámh to promote and campaign for fair and transparent labour practices within the global clothing supply chain.

Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland is the  part of an international alliance of organisations, NGO’s, and trade unions operating in 16 European countries with a network of over 200 global partners. The Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland works together with these partners to conduct research into conditions for workers on the factory floors in garment producing countries and examine retailer policies and business practices that affect them.

As my local TD and Dáil representative, I am writing to you today to ask you to show your support of the Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland’s campaign in the Dáil and join the call for an import ban of a clothing product which is costing the lives of thousands of garment workers each year.