KARACHI - Noted singer Jawad Ahmed has composed a special song to honour and remember those who died in the Baldia Factory tragedy and to show solidarity with their bereaved families.

Addressing a joint press conference at Karachi Press Club, Jawad Ahmed along with Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research Karamat Ali and other trade union leaders announced a live concert of the song at Labour Square ground in SITE on Sunday December 30, 2012.

“My song is not only a tribute to the deceased workers, but an inspiration with a commitment that no such incident be happened in the future,” he said. This song will be presented at an event where the family members of the victims as well workers from SITE and other surrounding industrial areas of Karachi will be attending.

The lyrics express the voice of every worker who lost her or his life in this incident. They not only express their suffering but also provide a reflection of the circumstances in which workers work and offer their labour to society. Jawad Ahmad said his team will record a video at the event which will be officially released at a later date. Similar concerts would also be held in all the industrial cities of the country. The next one would be held at Faisalabad by early next year, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Karamat Ali drew attention of the media towards one of the most horrific accident in Pakistan’s industrial history in which more than 300 workers lost their lives because of absence of occupational health and safety facilities at the work place. It has been more than three months since this tragedy occurred and people are now forgetting it. “We want to keep these memories alive until the working conditions are made better across the country,” he remarked. Despite this, many families of the victims are still struggling hard to identify the burnt bodies of their loved ones or find a clue of the missing, he added.

This incident not only revealed the abhorrent conditions in workplaces, but also society’s negligent and discriminatory attitude towards its working class. This incident revealed that there were no measures in place in the factory for dealing with fire outbreaks or any other unpredictable workplace accidents. Instead, due to criminal negligence, the emergency exits of the factory were locked, as a result of which hundreds of workers lost their lives.

“If we closely observe this situation, it becomes obvious that labour laws are followed neither at this factory, nor at thousands of other factories,” he said. For many years, influential factory owners have deliberately pressurised the government to cease factory inspections. At the same time, the Factories Act and other laws are not being observed or implemented, Karamat Ali added.

He said Ali Enterprises violated the existing labour laws and at the same time was not registered their workers under Factories Act 1934 with the labour department. As a result, the workers were excluded from social security and EOBI facilities. Often, the workers would not be in possession of contracts or identity cards. While working under these unsafe and risky conditions, workers were not protected by the management at the factory.

The owners were more concerned about their own assets and capital rather than about the lives of the workers. As a result of this, they had ordered all the doors to be locked, which is why hundreds of workers were left to be burnt alive to their death.