Garment supply chain workers, a majority of them women, faced massive wage theft and income loss during the COVID-19 pandemic when Big Fashion brands’ like Nike canceled or drastically reduced orders en masse (as detailed in Asia Floor Wage Alliance’s (AFWA)Money Heistreport).
Meanwhile, Wall Street investors and owners made record profits and paid themselves millions of dollars through stock buybacks.
Over the next two weeks in Geneva, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will dedicate part of its annual conference to an important discussion about how to promote decent working conditions in global supply chains.
Two years ago on September 11, 2012, a third-degree fire broke out at Ali Enterprises, a garment factory in the industrial area Karachi, in which 259 workers perished alive. It was one of the most devastating fire tragedies of known industrial history. The tragedy sparked a debate, but unfortunately on too small a scale, on one of the most neglected but important issues: workplace safety and working conditions of the working class. But as usual, soon after the tragic inferno, the issue of workers was dumped, forgotten due to other thorny issues confronting our country.
The second anniversary of the “Baldia Factory Fire Tragedy” is the right time to revisit the conditions and situation under which Pakistan's workforce of 60 million is compelled to work.
Despite repeated appeals by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), families and garment workers affected by the fire, and trade unions, the government, judicial commission and concerned authorities are still not paying attention to the demands of the victims’ families.
During a blaze at Ali Enterprises garment factory in Baldia Town, Karachi, on September 11, 2012, 259 workers were burned to death. The affected families are still waiting for compensation.