Workers’ Rights Movement in Pakistan Gains Momentum: Court Orders Arrest of Ali Enterprises Owners

The proceedings begin. The
District Judge Abdullah Channa is listening to arguments presenting evidence
that the factory gates were closed on
orders of the owners and the general manager after the fire broke out.
 At the very least this amounts to unpardonable criminal negligence. Already at
10am the
proceeding ends, but District Judge Channa withholds his judgment. 

Then at 4:30 pm, the order to
arrest is announced. Bail has been denied for Arshad and Sahid Baila, two of the
three owners! Only Abdul Aziz Bhaila, co-owner and father, is granted bail due
to deteriorating health.

This is a major victory for the
Workers’ Rights Movement, in a country where too often worker’s voices are left
at best unheard, and are more often maliciously disregarded. It is a step
towards holding the right people accountable for atrocious labor rights abuses,
and recognizing, respecting, and valuing the dignity of the Pakistani garment

But the struggle is far from over.
And neither are the protests. On Saturday, October 20, in observation of a
Muslim tradition of holding a ritual to remember the deceased forty days after
their deaths, the Workers’ Rights Movement has planned a mass gathering outside
of Ali Enterprises to pay respect to the workers, and to reaffirm their
dedication to the struggle for just and safe working conditions. The
International Labor Rights Forum stands in solidarity with the families of the fire
victims and the injured workers, and continues to support the demands of the

Hanna Claeson is an intern at the International Labor Rights Forum.