Trade unionists demand compensation to families of factory fire victims

Karachi: Trade unions leaders have demanded the government to provide compensation to all the families of the victims of Baldia factory fire including to those who are waiting for DNA reports through the commission headed by retired judge of Supreme Court Justice (R) Rahmat Hussain Jafery, set up by the Sindh High Court.

Addressing a joint press conference at Karachi Press Club on Thursday afternoon the Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Karamat Ali, Nasir Mansoor of National Trade Union Federation and trade union leaders Noor Muhammad, Nawab Ali and Rehana Yasmeen criticised the statement by Sindh Health Minister that the remaining bodies would be collectively buried soon.

They said after such a long wait period and despite the conducting of the DNA testing 3 times, the bodies have still not been able to be identified, which proves that in this country there is no effective DNA testing system. This is a grave matter.

They regretted that there is a plenty of wasteful expenditure in this country, however, spending on upgrading the DNA technology is not a priority. They also questioned the collective burial of the bodies through district administration. They asked the government to bury the bodies after consultation with the Sindh High Court and the Justice (R) Rahmat Hussain Jafery Commission.

“We demand the government to compensate the relatives who have provided their DNA for testing. Other than that, we believe that it has not yet been determined through any satisfactory arrangement exactly how many workers were present inside the factory at the time of the fire. The factory owners must have a record of all the workers which should be recovered from them. At the moment, 22 families have received bodies and without wasting any more time they should be compensated.”

The labour leaders pointed out that about 262 workers had lost their lives in the fire on September 11, 2012 and relatives of 210 of the deceased have received compensation cheques. After this, 22 bodies were handed over to relatives. However, 17 bodies still remain in Edhi’s morgue storage facility. DNA testing of the relatives of these 17 deceased workers has been carried out, however, the bodies have still not been handed over to them.

They mentioned that the Employees Oldage Benefit Institution (EOBI) has granted pension documents to families which are only valid for the next 5 years. “We believe that this is clearly against the laws surrounding the administration of pensions and that all the families should receive lifelong pensions. The EOBI should be held accountable for this unlawful discrimination against the laws, all families should receive pension documents with a lifelong validity.”

They demanded that the compensation amount given by the government, factory owners, certification authorities and German company KIK should be pooled for permanent rehabilitation of the families of the factory fire victims.

They also demanded that the Justice Qurban Alvi’s Commission Report be made public immediately.

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