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Pakistan: After Four Years, Ali Enterprise Fire Victims to Get Proper Compensation

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Four years ago, a fire ripped through a garment factory in Pakistan, killing and injuring hundreds, and victims will finally start to see compensation.

In 2012, a fire at the Ali Enterprise garment factory in Baldia, Karachi, killed more than 255 workers and injured 57 others, and the victims or their families had been receiving some funds, but not enough to make up for the financial loss the fire caused.

As has been the case with other deadly factory fires, many of the workers trying to escape found themselves trapped behind locked exit doors. Less than one month before the fire inspectors visiting the factory certified it for having met international safety standards in areas including safety, child labor and minimum wages, which brought to question the validity of the factory monitoring system.

At the time of the fire—one of the worst industrial accidents in Pakistan—German clothing chain Kik was the factory’s main client.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a statement Saturday that an agreement has now been reached to provide more than $5 million to compensate for loss of income, medical care and rehabilitation costs.

Victims have so far been getting payments from social security schemes in Pakistan, and Kik has already paid $1 million in emergency compensation to the victims. After ongoing discussions, however, Kik said it would pay an additional $5.15 million to “fund the gap to top up the statutory benefits,” for the victims, ILO said in a statement.

“The environmental and social standards that we have jointly drawn up are not just a piece of paper but are leading to concrete improvements in the living and working conditions of garment workers in factories on the ground,” said Gerd Müller, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, which had been part of talks surrounding the compensation agreement.

Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriAll Global Union, said the families of those killed and the injured survivors can now look forward to proper compensation.

“We commend Kik for agreeing to fund compensation that meets international standards and our thanks go to all the parties that have worked hard to produce this agreement,” Raina said. “Now we must fight for a safer garment industry in Pakistan so that this terrible tragedy is never repeated.”

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