KARACHI, May 29: Heirs of the victims of the Baldia factory fire on May 26 demanded a lump-sum pension payment instead of disbursing it in instalments.
The demand was made at a press conference jointly organised by the National Trade Union Federation and the Association of the Affectees of Baldia tragedy at the Karachi Press Club.
The chairperson of the Affectees Association, Syeda Khatoon, said that they did not trust social security institutions, such as Sessi and Employees Old-Age Benefit Institution, and “would rather prefer getting payment in lump sum than waiting it out.”
When asked whether their association reached out to the International Labour Organisation to inform it of their decision, she said they had informed all institutions concerned of their stance through rallies and protests.
Abdul Aziz Khan, the general secretary of the association, said: “The EOBI would suspend our pensions from September of this year and we’d be dependent on the instalments which we don’t want.”
The families were referring to a recent agreement between German retailer, KiK, and labour unions in September last year in Geneva. According to the agreement, KiK agreed to pay $5 million in instalments.
The agreement came after the German government asked the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to mediate between KiK and the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) and to decide how the compensation will be distributed.
The German retailer had earlier paid $1m as compensation to the heirs of the victims who died in the fire at Baldia Town’s Ali Enterprises on Sept 11, 2012. Eventually, the German retailer was accused by the labour organisations of not respecting other similar agreements.
However after the agreement was reached, the heirs disagreed with the arrangement of receiving the payment in instalments. “Our demand remains the same as we don’t consider Sessi to be an honourable institution,” concluded Syeda Khatoon.
Outside the press club, members of the association sat with placards denouncing the agreement and the payment method.
Published by Daily Dawn on May 27, 2017