Safety at work

ILO announces action plan to boost workplace safety in Pakistani factories

ILO sets out a series of short and medium-term measures in response to the deaths of more than 260 workers in a garment factory in Karachi.

News | 17 September 2012
The ILO will offer immediate and medium term assistance to the victim's families
GENEVA (ILO News) - The International Labour Organization has pledged to support the families of the victims of the Karachi garment factory fire and announced a plan to strengthen workplace safety, to prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future.

Francesco d’Ovidio, ILO Pakistan Country Director, flew to Karachi on Friday and held a meeting with Dr. Ishrat Ul Ebad Khan, Governor of Sindh Province. D’Ovidio expressed his condolences on the death of so many workers and outlined how the ILO will help victims’ families and the Sindh Labour Department.

“In this tragedy, 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 skills training scholarships to members of the victims’ families and link them with decent jobs,’ D’Ovidio said.

‘We will help enterprises put in place a safe work culture in workplaces through the rapid training of labour inspectors in Sindh,’ he added.

Dr. Khan welcomed ILO’s support and solidarity and said it will help the government’s efforts to address the tragedy. “ILO’s support to strengthen the Department of Labour to prevent re-occurrence of such incidents in the future is most welcomed,” he said.

When the fire broke out, many workers were trapped because there were no fire exits and because windows were barred. The ILO is calling for the restoration of labour inspections in all factories and will help build the capacity of Sindh Labour Department in order to improve inspections. It will also help employers and workers develop a code of conductand will promote the idea of self-regulation by employers.

Earlier, the head of the ILO office in Pakistan met the Labour Secretary of Sindh Province, Arif Elahi, who welcomed the ILO plan.

“ILO’s immediate and medium term planned interventions are very timely and welcomed. We thank the ILO for extending this help for the members of the victims’ families and to strengthen the labour inspection in Sindh Province,” Elahi said.

“ILO’s help is needed to launch a campaign for factory registration and to develop an efficient labour inspection system in Sindh province. Presently, the labour inspection system has various challenges, including a limited mobility infrastructure. ILO’s technical and financial support is required to organize the labour inspection on modern lines,” he added.

D’Ovidio is also expected to hold meetings with the Employers Federation of Pakistan and the Pakistan Workers Federation.