After the fire in a Pakistani textile factory, now ”burning” ILO plan of action
Firstly ILO (The International Labour Organisation) called for national action to protect workers’ health and safety, following the deaths of at least 260 workers in a garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan and now is acting with a series of short and medium term measures
The fire incident occurred on September 12 and Seiji Machida, Head of ILO’s SafeWork Programme stated “We were shocked by the sad news and the killing of so many people. Protection of workers’ safety and health is a fundamental human right. We need to reinforce measures to protect workers’ lives from hazards in the workplace”. It is to be noted that according to reports, many victims were trapped in a basement with no fire exits and locked doors. Most died from suffocation when the basement filled with smoke. Other workers on upper floors wanted to escape out of the windows but were hindered by metal bars blocking their way. Only hours earlier, also further 25 people died in a fire in a shoe factory in the Pakistani city of Lahore. And this is not the first time that textile and shoe manufacturing sites bring death, it has happened before also in other Asian countries.
ILO has adopted more than 40 standards specifically dealing with occupational safety and health, as well as over 40 Codes of Practice. Nearly half of the ILO’s instruments deal directly or indirectly with occupational safety and health issues.
Francesco d’Ovidio, ILO Pakistan country director flew to Karachi on September 14, 2012 to hold a meeting with Dr. Ishrat Ul Ebad Khan, Governor Sindh Province, expressing his condolences on the death of so many workers and outlined how the ILO will help victims’ families and the Sindh Labour Department. D’Ovidio made clear: “In this trgedy, the ILO stands ready to provide support to the victims’ families, help them recover from their loss and strengthen the Sindh Labour Department to prevent a re-occurrence of such incidents in the future. The ILO is ready to offer immediate and medium term assistance, including skill training scholarships to member of the victim’s families and link them with decent jobs”. He added:” We will help enterprises to put in place a safe work culture in workplaces through the rapid training of labour inspectors in Sindh”. Governor Dr. Khan welcomed ILO’s support to prevent such incidents in the future.
These improved labour inspections in all factories will also help employers and workers to develop a code of conduct and promote the idea of self-regulation by employers.
The site of the terrible fire proved that the building was in a bad condition and the owners of the factory fled and are sought by police.