Ali Enterprises: A Factory Inferno

On 11 September 2012, at around 6 pm the Ali Enterprises factory in Pakistan exploded into flames, claiming the lives of over 250 people, and seriously injuring 55. As the fire ripped through the Ali Enterprises factory, workers were trapped in the building, behind barred windows and locked exit doors. Some workers managed to escape merely by jumping from windows considered too high to require bars, in the four-story building.  

In the wake of the disaster, among the carnage and destruction also lay bundles of denim with German-language labels carrying German retailer KiK’s brand “Okay Men”.

After the fire, it was reported that plant managers forced workers to stay, ordering the gates closed, in order to try and save the company’s stock: piles of jeans destined for KiK stores.
One survivor stated, “They prevented people from leaving, so they could save the clothes” – KiK’s jeans.

KiK's disregard for workers’ safety has cost thousands of lives in Pakistan and Bangladesh. It has a startling track record of sourcing from some of the most dangerous factories in the world. KiK is the only company in the world that has been linked to the worst three garment factory disasters in recent history – the Ali Enterprises factory fire in Pakistan; the Tazreen factory fire in Bangladesh (2012); and the Rana Plaza factory building collapse, also in Bangladesh (2013). A total of 1,500 garment workers are dead as a result of these tragedies. Thousands more were injured, and continue to battle with life altering injuries.

Compensation agreement reached after 4 years of struggle

After four years of campaigning and months of negotiations, an agreement was reached on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the fire. KiK agreed to pay an additional US$5.15 million to fund loss of earnings, medical and allied care, and rehabilitation costs to the injured survivors and dependents of those killed in the disaster. The Arrangement followed negotiations facilitated by the International Labour Organization (ILO) between IndustriALL, CCC, and KiK, at the request of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. Read more in our press release and in the official statement of the negotiating parties.

Start of life-long pensions

In a ceremony on 19 May 2018 the payment of long-term compensation in the form of life-long pensions was goven a symbolic start. The actual reimbursement started in August/September. This ended a six year long wait for the survivors and families for full and fair compensation. In order to understand and learn from this lengthy process, Clean Clothes Campaign has published a time line, summing up the different steps and barriers that had to be taken and overcome.

Complaint against auditor RINA

On the sixth anniversary of the Ali Enterprises fire, a large coalition of labour rights groups and the Ali Enterprises affectees association filed an OECD complaint again Italian auditing firm RINA which certified the Ali Enterprises factory only weeks before the deadly fire. Read more on our press release. More information about the different efforts by a broad network of labour and human rights groups to hold both KiK and RINA accountable for the Ali Enterprises fire can be found here.

Action in Berlin October 2015

Survivors speak out

Shanawaz is 46 years years old and was machine operator in Ali Enterprises factory. He earned 30,000.00 PKR. While running in an attempt to escape from the fire, he injured is knee and now he cannot walk. He developed asthma after the fire. He cannot work because of his knee injury and his respiratory problems. He has two children who go to school. He has no income and only survives with the support of his brother.

Harif, who is now 22, survived from the Ali enterprises fire. He was a stitching machine operator earning around 33,000.00PKR. His grandfather on his mother's side died in Ali enterprises fire. Harif's arm and leg were fractured but now he works - he has to. Just two months ago he could started working again. He needed time to heal and could not get a stable job.

Shazad Ali is 42 years old and was stitching in the Ali enterprises factory. He earned around 31,000.00 PKR. He broke the window and jumped from the second floor. His right leg was injured and he needed two surgeries. Plates were inserted in his leg. He cannot work anymore because of the injuries and asthma problems that are a result of the accident. He has five children (3 sons and 2 daughters) to look after. He is the only breadwinner for the whole family. All his children went to school before and after the factory fire they discontinued the school. His daughters are ready for marriage but they don't have the money to get married.

Find more voices of survivors here.

Shahida and Farhat in Berlin November 2015

Action in Pakistan April 2016