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NGO coalition files OECD complaint with Italian NCP against auditor RINA for allegedly failing to detect safety & labour abuses at Ali Enterprises factory in Pakistan; incl. co response

On 11 September 2018, on the six year anniversary of the fire at the Ali Enterprises textile factory in Karachi, Pakistan, which claimed over 250 lives and left dozens more injured, ECCHR together with an international coalition of seven other human rights, labour and consumer organizations filed a complaint to the OECD National Contact Point (NCP) at the Ministry for Economic Development in Rome against the Italian auditor RINA Services S.p.A.. The complaint alleges RINA and its subcontractor failed to detect and act upon safety and labour abuses at the factory it certified for abiding to international labour standards only three weeks before the fire broke out. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited RINA to comment on the press release annoucing the claim was filed. Their response is available below.

For our coverage of the ongoing lawsuit against KiK, the factory's main customer, see here.

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All components of this story

Article
31 October 2018

Human Rights Watch urges German & Italian govts. to push for rehaul of "social audits" business

Author: Aruna Kashyap, Human Rights Watch

"Germany Paved the Way for Revamping “Social Audits,” Italy Should Follow", 8 Oct 2018

Pakistani worker representatives and European rights groups filed a complaint with Italian authorities against RINA. RINA, an auditing firm, issued a report certifying the Ali Enterprises factory. Weeks after they issued an SA8000 certificate [...] the factory burned down killing more than 250 workers...

The German authorities’ findings in a June 26 report came at the end of a two-year process in response to complaints about a social audit conducted by TUV India and its parent company, TUV Rhineland, in a factory in Bangladesh...

German authorities have identified numerous concerns with the auditing industry. These include auditors’ technical expertise, the methodology for audits, and how the audits are paid for. The authorities also expressed concerns about whether factories actually fix the problems and what brands do to monitor the process, and whether workers have ways of raising grievances after the auditors leave the premises...

Germany [...] is well placed to lead a dialogue that would fundamentally alter the social audits business. Italian authorities too should come out strongly pushing for a rehaul of the system...

Read the full post here

Company response
12 September 2018

Response by RINA

Author: RINA

We invited RINA to respond the press release by ECCHR. RINA responded and sent us their press statement.

RINA conducted a two-stage audit of the Ali Enterprises premises according to SA8000, a voluntary standard for auditable third-party verification, that encourages organizations to develop a management system ensuring socially acceptable practices in the workplace. The audit was satisfactory. When RINA conducted the audit, the company was compliant with the SA8000 standard. Evidence collected following the fire would suggest that at the time of the fire the situation at Ali Enterprises was no longer in compliance with the SA8000 standard, as assessed by RINA two months prior to the incident...

Prior to the fire, Ali Enterprises held a SA8000 certificate for the plant in Baldia Town that had been issued by RINA Services...

Pictures taken after the fire, together with an analysis of the company’s actions prior to the fire, would appear to show a substantial difference between the conditions at the time of the fire when compared with the conditions at the time of audit, which occurred about two months prior...

After the event, RINA conducted an internal review together with the accreditation body, SAAS...

Following the Karachi fire, SAAS significantly revised the standard, fire safety in particular.

The fire at the Ali Enterprises has been, and still is, the subject of administrative and legal investigations.

Documents, including the audit report, cannot be released for legal reasons.

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Article
11 September 2018

OECD COMPLAINT AGAINST ITALIAN AUDITOR RINA

Author: ECCHR

More than 250 people died and dozens were injured in a fire at the Ali Enterprises textile factory in Karachi, Pakistan, on 11 September 2012. Only three weeks before, Italian auditor RINA Services S.p.A. certified the factory for abiding to international labour standards... ECCHR together with an international coalition of seven other human rights, labour and consumer organizations file a complaint to the OECD National Contact Point (NCP) at the Ministry for Economic Development in Rome against RINA...

“RINA’s clear failure to detect and act upon safety and labour violations in the Ali Enterprises factory once more shows that the social auditing system is inherently flawed...“ ECCHR [...] said.

In a digital simulation of the fire, research agency Forensic Architecture, based at Goldsmiths, University of London, recently showed that if the factory‘s leniency on safety standards would have been identified and acted upon, hundreds of lives could have been saved.

RINA [...] not only failed to visit the factory itself, but [its] Pakistani subsidiary RI&CA (Regional Inspection & Certification Agency) allegedly also did not set foot in the factory. This subcontractor’s audit failed to notice a range of infractions on the international standards it was upholding...

Read the full post here