NEWS - 2024

s. Untertitel
Nasir Mansoor (NTUF), Zehra Khan (HBWWF) und Sina Marx (FEMNET) protestieren für das Lieferkettengesetz vor dem Reichstagsgebäude in Berlin, Januar 2023. © FEMNET

Pakistani trade unionists call for German YES to EU supply chain law

September 2012: 260 people burn to death in Pakistani textile factory

On 11 September 2012, 260 people were burned alive and more than 50 people were injured at the Ali Enterprises textile factory in Pakistan. Barred windows, defective fire extinguishers and emergency exits that led nowhere made the factory a deadly trap for the workers. Just three weeks before the fire, the certification company RINA had categorised the factory - which mainly produced for the German textile company KiK - as safe.

At the time, trade unionists Nasir Mansoor and Zehra Khan represented the survivors of the disaster and took them to court in Germany. Neither the certification company RINA nor the textile discounter Kik were ultimately held legally responsible. After years of public protest and months of negotiations, Kik finally agreed to pay compensation, but on a voluntary basis, as there was no legal basis. Together with the terrible factory disaster at Rana Plaza just one year later, the Ali Enterprise case therefore paved the way for a supply chain law.

10 years later: German supply chain law protects workers in Pakistan

Since 1 January 2023, the German Supply Chain Duty of Care Act (LkSG) has legally obliged companies to ensure compliance with labour rights in their value chains. One year after the law came into force, trade unionists Nasir Mansoor and Zehra Khan are back in Germany. They want to talk to German textile companies and politicians about how the German law is helping to protect human rights in Pakistani textile factories.

The law is also widely supported by international companies and ensures better dialogue between those affected and companies: After 40 years of trade union work in Pakistan, Nasir Mansoor is sitting at the same table as representatives of German companies for the first time. The companies are finally willing to talk to the trade unions in order to get a realistic picture of the working conditions on the ground and to discuss possible solutions together. These talks are a direct effect of the new law. After all, effective measures to implement due diligence obligations do not have to be bureaucratic: Request from a European buyer to the producer to sit down and negotiate with the local trade union sometimes yields more than 100 pages of audit reports from private sector audit firms.

January 2024: FDP and business lobbyists torpedo progress for human rights

The trade unionists from Pakistan also spoke with the authorities and ministries responsible for implementing the law in Germany, as well as with parliamentarians, civil society and trade unions in Germany. The conclusion from all the discussions is that, even if there are some areas that need to be improved, the German LkSG is already having a positive impact and is protecting human rights on the ground - as are those companies that are willing to address human rights in their supply chains. It is now all the more important to protect this initial success. Against the FDP's blockade and in favour of human rights. Zehra Khan summarises it like this:

"Anyone who still opposes such legislation in the 21st century is knowingly accepting the death and exploitation of people in Pakistan who labour for the profits of companies in Germany. We therefore ask the German government to send a clear signal: No more Ali Enterprise, no more deaths for clothes!"