WRC Factory Investigation

Ali Enterprises

Factory: Ali Enterprises

Key Buyers: Kik

Year: 2012

Case Summary

A horrific blaze at Ali Enterprises killed more than 250 people on September 11, 2012. This is the deadliest factory fire in the history of apparel manufacturing and one of the worst industrial disasters ever. Barred windows and locked exits were primary contributors to the vast death toll. The factory had no meaningful fire safety protections and the building itself was illegally constructed. Credible journalistic sources have also reported that the vast majority of the more than 1,000 workers at the factory were never even registered as employees by the factory and that many were being paid well below the legal minimum wage. The factory was certainly supplying apparel for several large brands. Not a single buyer has voluntarily come forward to take responsibility and offer to aid the families of those killed. Any brand that was doing business with Ali Enterprises has a profound ethical obligation to step forward without delay, acknowledge its role, and take action to help the families of the dead and the surviving injured workers. It is deeply disturbing that none of the buyers have done so. Ali Enterprises does not appear on the factory disclosure list of any university licensee; however, since most of the factory’s buyers remain unidentified, and since licensee disclosure is not always reliable, we cannot state with confidence at this point that there was no collegiate connection to this facility.

Pakistan is a major supplier of collegiate apparel, with more than 50 apparel licensees sourcing there in nearly 150 factories. Just weeks before the disaster, the factory was given a clean bill of health by the auditing system of Social Accountability International (SAI). This is an enormous blow to the credibility of SAI and of the broader system of industry monitoring and auditing. The events at Ali Enterprises reinforce our conviction that systems like SAI are not adequate to ensure basic protections for worker rights and safety—and our fear that deadly fires and other workplace accidents will continue to be a feature of global apparel production unless broader reforms are achieved. The WRC is working with worker representatives and NGOs in Pakistan and around the world to ensure fair compensation for all those affected by the fire, to identify the brands who produced at Ali Enterprises, and to press the industry for the major reforms of safety practices that are essential in Pakistan. The WRC will continue to provide updates on the situation.

Read More:

In the News: