KiK lawsuit (re Pakistan)

Pakistan-fire-II-kik-Credit: Fahim Siddiqi/IPS

In September 2012, 260 people died and 32 were injured in fire in Baldia textile factory in Karachi, Pakistan. KiK, a German clothing retail company was the factory's main customer. 

On 13 March 2015, a survivor and 3 families of victims filed a lawsuit against KiK at the regional court in Dortmund, Germany, claiming that the company should bear responsibility for the fire safety deficiencies in the Pakistani factory. The lawsuit seeks compensation for pain and suffering caused by the fire for all the affected families, as well as an apology and the company's pledge to ensure safety at its outsourced clothing production facilities. On 30 August 2016, the court accepted jurisdiction and granted legal aid to the claimants. On 10 September 2016, KiK agreed to pay a total of $5.15 million to the affected families and survivors following a negotiation facilitated by the International Labour Organisation. In January 2018, it was announced that, as part of an agreement facilitated by the ILO, families of the victims will get monthly pensions from the amount provided by KiK, starting in February 2018. This arrangement supplements payments to victims by public social security schemes.  In May 2018, the families of 209 victims of the Baldia Factory incident started receiving long-term compensation from the amount provided by KiK.

However, the company denies responsibility for the fire and refuses to pay for the damages requested by plaintiffs, asserting that the fire was caused by arson and there were no fire safety issues reported by auditors. In February 2018, a computer simulation from Goldsmiths, University of London’s Forensic Architecture project, showing that inadequate fire safety measures led to the deaths of the factory workers was submitted to the court in Dortmund. The court has commissioned a lawyer from the University of Bristol to deliver a legal opinion on whether the claimants have a right to compensation under Pakistani law as well as on whether the statute of limitations has passed.

The court will hold first oral hearing of the case on 29 November 2018.

News

- “Long-term compensation payment to Baldia Factory fire affectees begins”, 20 May 2018, Daily Times
- “Families of Baldia factory fire victims to receive pension from February; first time a compensation system has been established for families of victims of industrial accidents”, 16 Jan 2018, The News
- “Families of Baldia factory fire victims seek justice in German court”, 5 June 2016 Zubair Ashraf, Express Tribune
- “Pakistan: Resumption of Baldia factory fire compensation talks welcomed”, 30 May 2016, Daily Times
- “Baldia factory fire: Retailer comes under fierce criticism”, 13 March 2015, Express Tribune

 NGOs

- German Court will hear the case against KiK on 29 November 2018; Pakistani plaintiffs will speak in Geneva, Dortmund and Rome, ECCHR,
- [DE]“Klage gegen KiK: Landgericht Dortmund darf Verfahren nicht an Verjährung scheitern lassen!”, 5 June 2018, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights
- “Forensic video evidence submitted to court in legal action against KiK for factory fire shows minor safety improvements could have saved lives”, 1 Feb 2018, ECCHR, medico international
- “Q&A on the Compensation Claim against KiK”, 19 Dec 2016, ECCHR
- “Supply chain liability: The lawsuit by Karachi claimants against retailer KiK in historic perspective”, 20 Oct 2016, Dr. Carolijn Terwindt, ECCHR on Humboldt Law Clinic Grund- und Menschenrechte blog
- “Landmark compensation arrangement reached on 4th anniversary of deadly Pakistan factory fire”, 10 Sep 2016, Clean Clothes Campaign
- “German Court: Pakistani victims awarded legal costs in case against KiK”, 30 Aug 2016, ECCHR, medico international
- “Forging new legal ground: Why families & survivors of the Karachi factory fire could spell the end of voluntary corporate responsibility”, 16 June 2015, Miriam Saage-Maaß, ECCHR
- “Paying the price for clothing factory disasters in south Asia: Pakistan factory fire victims sue KiK”, 13 March 2015, ECCHR, medico international
- “Second Anniversary of Fire Disaster in Pakistan Textile Factory - KiK stalling on further compensation: Victims prepare to launch lawsuit in Germany”, 10 Sep 2014, Clean Clothes Campaign, ECCHR & medico international
- “Legal action on fire in textile factory in Karachi, Pakistan”, 7 March 2013, ECCHR

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Article
23 May 2018

Families of victims of Baldia Factory fire in Pakistan start receiving long-term compensation from amount provided by KiK

Author: Daily Times

[See here for the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre's coverage of the ongoing lawsuit against KiK in Dortmund, Germany.]

"Long-term compensation payment to Baldia Factory fire affectees begins", 20 May 2018

The families of all 209 victims of the Baldia Factory fire incident have started receiving long-term compensation, from the amount provided by the German textile buyer KIK...

Over 250 workers had lost their lives in a deadly fire at the factory located in SITE Baldia industrial area on September 11, 2012. The main buyer, German company KIK Textilien, had provided US $ 1 million immediate relief as a result of signing of an MoU between KIK and PILER... KIK later provided US $ 5.15 million as long-term compensation. The ILO received the money and after calculation of pension rates, now it has started distribution...

PILER’s Executive Director Karamat Ali said it was a collective struggle of many organisations and victims families, who fought their case through international advocacy. He underlined the need for continuation of the struggle for workers rights...

He said without ILO’s intervention this landmark agreement was not possible. The German government had also played a key role in facilitating and focusing on compensation to the victims. He also appreciated the role of German company KIK...

He also suggested formation of a committee that can ensure enforcement of health and safety laws...

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Article
1 February 2018

Forensic video evidence submitted to court in legal action against KiK for factory fire shows minor safety improvements could have saved lives

Author: ECCHR, medico international

Factory fire at KiK supplier in Pakistan: minor fire safety improvements could have saved lives...

Inadequate fire safety measures at the company, a supplier for the German clothes retailer KiK, led to the agonizing deaths of 260 factory workers in the blaze. This is shown by a new computer simulation from Goldsmiths, University of London’s Forensic Architecture project. The simulation has now been submitted to the Regional Court in Dortmund, Germany, where legal action against KiK is ongoing. Since March 2015 the Court has been examining a civil claim against KiK filed by four Pakistanis – one survivor and three relatives of workers killed in the fire...

Using photos, videos and witness testimonies, the forensic experts reconstructed the exact dimensions, architecture and layout of the building and simulated the events on the night of the fire. In consultation with international fire safety experts they also simulated how the fire would have progressed if better safety measures had been in place. Based on this information and analysis, the Forensic Architecture team comes to a clear conclusion: small changes in fire safety precautions would have drastically reduced the impact of the fire.

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Article
16 January 2018

Families of Baldia factory fire victims to receive pension from February; first time a compensation system has been established for families of victims of industrial accidents

Author: The News

Families of the victims of the 2012 Ali Enterprises (Baldia) factory fire will get monthly pensions as a long-term compensation from the amount provided by the German buyer KIK Textilein, starting next month.

This was announced at a joint press conference held on Monday at Karachi Press Club by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Executive Director, National Trade Unions Federation’s (NTUF) Nasir Mansoor and Saeeda Khatoon, the chairperson of the Ali Enterprises Factory Fire Affectees Association.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has finalised the pension distribution formula and hence the process will start from February, they said. More than 250 workers had died on September 11, 2012 when a huge fire broke out in a garments manufacturing factory in SITE industrial area...

“This is the first instance in the world that a compensation system has been established for the families of victims of industrial accidents,” said Ali. NTUF’s Nasir Mansoor said that some international organisations like Clean Clothes Campaign and IndustriAll also supported this campaign for compensating victims’ families. He also appreciated the support from ILO and other international organisations and the German company KIK, which has provided the money.

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Article
19 December 2016

Q&A on the Compensation Claim against KiK

Author: European Center for Constitutional & Human Rights

Paying the price for catastrophes: Survivors of Pakistani factory fire sue German clothing retailer KiK...260 dead and 32 injured: In the fire disaster on the 11th of September 2012, the employees of the Ali Enterprises textile factory in Karachi paid the ultimate price for KiK’s clothing. Before the fire they had been working for a pittance under inhumane conditions...They are demanding justice from KiK...Since December 2012, there have been negotiations regarding long-term compensation...Those affected demanded payment of the Pakistani minimum wage for three years. Additionally, KiK was to accept joint responsibility for the fire safety deficiencies. But KiK stalled on talks with the relatives and the survivors of the catastrophe in Karachi and then, in December 2014, made an inadequate offer. The company indicated that there will be no damages for pain and suffering. Those affected were to initially get a payment of $1,000. But the company did not want to commit to concrete figures regarding long-term compensation. It rejected any responsibility for those killed and injured in Karachi...The plaintiffs have filed a legal action for damages. They demand € 30,000 compensation per victim...

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Article
21 October 2016

Commentary: Lawsuit against KiK & question of supply chain liability for Pakistan factory fire

Author: Dr. Carolijn Terwindt, ECCHR on Humboldt Law Clinic Grund- und Menschenrechte blog (Germany)

"Supply chain liability: The lawsuit by Karachi claimants against retailer KiK in historic perspective", 20 Oct 2016

On 29 August 2016, the court (Landgericht) in Dortmund, Germany, issued an important decision: In a claim by Pakistani survivors and legal heirs against German retailer KiK for injuries and deaths during a fire at a factory supplying jeans in Karachi, the judges accepted jurisdiction and granted legal aid to the Pakistani claimants to cover the legal fees.  While at the very same time the German National Action Plan on business and human rights turns out to be less about binding obligations than about voluntary responsibility, this judicial decision is...the first time that a transnational claim by workers and their families from a supplying factory against a retailer will be heard in Germany...During the process of preparing and filing the claim, the claimants and the Affectees Association have already moved from passive objects of charity into acting legal subjects.  Today they are speaking for themselves, asserting their decisions, and articulating their rights and own assessment of their needs.  They are doing nothing less than pushing for a legal recognition of their role in globalized supply chains.

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Article
10 September 2016

Landmark compensation arrangement reached on 4th anniversary of deadly Pakistan factory fire

Author: Clean Clothes Campaign

After four years of campaigning and months of negotiations, an agreement has been reached to pay compensation in excess of US$5 million to the survivors and families of workers killed in Pakistan’s worst industrial accident...On 11 September 2012, more than 250 workers lost their lives and over 50 were injured in a fire at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi.  Workers burnt to death trapped behind barred windows and locked doors. Others jumped for their lives from the upper floors, sustaining permanent disabilities...German retailer KiK, Ali Enterprises’ only known buyer, has now 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.

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Article
30 August 2016

German Court: Pakistani victims awarded legal costs in case against KiK

Author: European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights & Medico International

Justice for the 260 dead and 32 injured: that’s the demand from those injured and bereaved by a devastating fire at the Ali Enterprises clothing factory in Karachi, Pakistan.  In March 2015, four victims brought a legal action against the German clothing discounter KiK at the Regional Court in Dortmund. KiK was the main client of the factory, which was destroyed in a fire in September 2012.  Today the court has issued an initial decision: the court has accepted jurisdiction and granted legal aid to the claimants to cover their costs. This decision is a first step towards dealing with human rights violations by German companies abroad before German courts...By bringing this case the claimants want to make clear that transnational corporations are liable for the working conditions in their subsidiary and supplier firms...The claimants (one survivor of the fire and three people who lost family members) are members of the Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association, a group set up by almost 200 families. They are calling for compensation from KiK to the value of €30,000 per claimant.

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Article
6 June 2016

Families of victims of deadly fire at garment factory in Pakistan submit evidence for lawsuit against KiK in Germany

Author: Zubair Ashraf, Express Tribune (Pakistan)

"Families of Baldia factory fire victims seek justice in German court", 5 Jun 2016

While the Bhaila brothers bore the brunt of the blame for the Baldia Town factory fire, four families are pursuing a case against the factory’s sole German contractor in its hometown.

On September 11, 2012, more than 250 workers lost their lives in Pakistan’s worst industrial disaster at Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi...

Dr Terwindt, whose organisation is helping the affected families pursue the case in Germany, explained how “boss company” KiK procured nearly 70% of Ali Enterprises’ products…

Investigations into the factory fire exposed several irregularities in the corporate sector…

Explaining the liability on the German company, Klinger [the litigants’ attorney in Dortmund court] said KiK could not avoid charges on the excuse it was just a customer…

…“The buyer is legally bound to ensure the workers at the production unit have access to health and workplace safety. And KiK did not act according to the agreements it signed,” he added…

For its part, KiK reiterates its commitment to paying the victims. “KiK, a major but by far not the only European or American buyer [of Ali Enterprises], wants to contribute to aid payments for the affected persons of the tragedy,” reads a statement KiK emailed to The Express Tribune. “This support, however, is fully voluntary and does not acknowledge any assumption of liability.”

…“KiK bears no responsibility for the outbreak or fatal consequences of the fire,” he said. “During regular audits, certified auditors did not report any fire safety issues.”…

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Article
30 May 2016

Pakistan: Resumption of Baldia factory fire compensation talks welcomed

Author: Daily Times [Pakistan]

The international level talks on the issue of compensation to the affectees of Ali Enterprises fire tragedy are welcomed, noted a general body meeting of the Ali Enterprises Factory Fire Affectees Association (AEFA)....A large number of the heirs of the martyred workers and affectees were present in the meeting that was specially attended by legal experts Dr Remo Klinger, Attorney at Law, Germany; Dr Caroline Terwindt, Senior Legal Adviser ECCHR, Dr Miriam Saage-Maab, Vice Legal Director ECCHR, and Tara Scally from Clean Clothe Campaign, Netherlands....The representatives of the affectees praised the role of mediator of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and termed the resumption of talks for the payment of compensation as an important development. They thanked the participants of the Asia Living Conference in Islamabad for observing a one-minute silence in the memory of the Ali Enterprises martyrs and expressing solidarity with them....The meeting thanked the trade unions, labour organisations and governments of Germany and Holland for their efforts to persuade the German brand KIK to resume talks. It reiterated that the most important stakeholder are the affectees, represented by the association of Ali Enterprises Factory affectees; therefore, their participation in any talks or agreement is a must.

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Article
16 June 2015

Blog: Why families & survivors of the Karachi factory fire could spell the end of voluntary corporate responsibility

Author: Miriam Saage-Maaß, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights

"Forging new legal ground: Why families & survivors of the Karachi factory fire could spell the end of voluntary corporate responsibility", 16 Jun 2015

...On 11 September 2012 a fire broke out at the Ali Enterprises textile factory...in Karachi. 260 workers died and 32 were injured...[T]he Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association seeks for accountability. Several of the families are represented in local legal proceedings against Pakistani authorities..., as well as in criminal proceedings against the factory owners. At the same time victims are calling for justice from the European companies involved, KiK and...RINA...[I]n February 2015, the families of the Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association decided they...would...proceed with a lawsuit against KiK...The claim is forging new legal ground by attempting to enforce social and economic human rights through the national legal system...Victims of the Ali Enterprises fire have already shown that merely voluntary corporate action is a thing of the past...

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