September 12, 2018, marked the six-year anniversary of the Ali Enterprises factory fire in Pakistan, which killed nearly 300 workers. This was this the single deadliest factory fire in the history of modern garment production and the deadliest industrial accident in Pakistan’s history.
The fire occurred just three weeks after the factory was audited by Italian company RINA Services S.p.A. (RINA) against Social Accountability International’s SA8000 standard. Despite the numerous safety hazards inside the Ali Enterprises factory, including a lack of proper fire exits, RINA certified the factory as safe.
Recently, Forensic Architecture carried out a digital simulation of the fire, uncovering “the many ways in which design and management decisions not only failed to prevent injury and casualties, but in fact augmented the death toll.
“In light of this deadly oversight, a coalition of eight organizations – including the Ali Enterprises Factory Fire Affectees Association, Clean Clothes Campaign and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, among others – have filed a complaint at the Italian National Contact Point against RINA for issuing the SA8000 certificate on the basis of a deficient and incorrect audit report. RINA is a multinational enterprise within an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member country and must therefore observe the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
Beyond urging RINA to publish the audit report from the Ali Enterprises factory, the complaint highlights the ways in which the current social auditing system is fraught with conflicts of interest, and prioritizes the reputations of brands over the lives of workers.