No respite in Gadani ship breaking mishaps, as apathy prevails

Business News General Business News

Karachi, October 17, 2018 (PPI-OT): There is no respite in tragic mishaps in ship breaking yards of Gadani due to the continued apathy of the government and owners of the yards, said labor leaders, addressing a crowded press conference of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) here Wednesday.

They said the continuous mishaps in ship breaking sector show that the sitting government and owners of ship breaking yards are not serious in implementing and following the relevant laws. They said that from November 1, 2016 hundreds of big and small mishaps have been reported at the Gadani ship breaking yard, resulting in deaths of several workers and injuries to scores of others.

They said the basic cause of these mishaps is that the owners neglect the health and safety measures at workplace and violate the labor laws of the country. They said the central and provincial governments have turned the blind eye to this shameful malpractice, while the labor and environmental departments have also failed to discharge their responsibilities.

They said that on October 14, 2018, a fire erupted in an oil tanker named KIRUTI that was anchored at the plot number 09-10 for dismantling. However, due to lack of safety measures on the part of the owners and ignorance of administration fire broke on this ship, resulting in burn injuries to seven workers who were rushed to Karachi and admitted in hospital where condition of three of them is termed precarious. They said a few days ago another fire had broken at plot number 6-7, but fortunately no worker was injured.

They said there are serious threats to life of workers due to eruption of fire on ships, blasting of boilers and emission of dangerous gases, but relevant labor laws and health and safety rules are not being followed to check these mishaps. They said there is a nexus of the owners of ship breaking yards and labor contractors (Jamadars), who have become billionaires by exploiting low-paid workers. These elements have also formed a fake labor union, which extorts subscriptions and donations from labours, and hatch conspiracies so that the real union of laborers does not operate here.

This is why the workers face problems in getting their issues resolved. They said we are happy that after the recent incident the minister for labor Balochistan visited the Gadani ship breaking yard, escorted by representatives of the real labor union and got information about the problems of workers. They said we hope that the government of Balochistan would play its due role in checking such mishaps at Gadani in future.

They said whenever some mishap occurs at Gadani the government instead of improving conditions slaps Section 144 and stops the work dismantling of ships which is condemnable as thousands of workers go rendered jobless with this act and their families face starvation. This process also affects the allied industries, especially steel re-rolling mills, as its workers find no job due to non-supply of raw material. Moreover, it also sends the prices of iron and steel soaring, which affects the construction industry.

They said that ship breaking is an old industry of Pakistan but it is facing a decline due to apathy of stakeholders. In past this sector used to give employment to 25000 workers, but now only 5000 laborers are working here. They said that in the neighboring India there is the largest ship breaking sector of the world which provide jobs to 70000 workers and it is running successfully due to better rules and strict implementation of laws.

They said if the owners of ship breaking yards and government give a serious attention, Gadani could be made again the hub of international ship breaking activities. They said for this we have to strictly implement relevant laws and ensure proper health and safety measures for workers. They said as there is an association of owners of ship breaking yards, the representative union of workers, Ship breaking workers union Gadani’ should also be recognized and the problems of workers be solved properly.

They said that in this regard a draft bill on Ship breaking made by the NTUF should be discussed and enacted into law after proper amendments as to improve working and living conditions at Gadani shipbreaking yards. They said they were grateful to IndustriAll Global Union, journalists and other local and international organizations for expressing solidarity with the ship breaking workers and the NTUF over the recent sad mishap at Gadani.

They demanded that every injured of the recent ship breaking mishap should be given not only medical facilities but also compensation of Rs0.5million, each. All ship breaking workers should be registered with social security and EOBI. To facilitate the workers a hospital, residential colony, school and canteen should be urgently built at Gadani ship breaking yard. The workers should be given right to make their trade unions and elect their CBA. A fake union of Jamadars should be stopped from taking forced contributions from the workers. To improve working condition and working hours, the ship breaking guidelines of ILO for South Asia should be implemented, besides Hong Kong Convention for ship building and ship breaking should be also ratified.

Those spoke included Rafiq Baloch President NTUF, Nasir Mansoor deputy general secretary NTUF, Karamat Ali director PILER, Bashir Ahmed Mehmoodani president Ship breaking Workers Union Gadani, Zahra Khan General Secretary Home-based Women Workers Federation, Imran Ali general secretary Pakistan Chemical, Energy and Mines General Workers Federation, and Habibuddin Junedi of Pakistan Labor Bureau. Hundreds of shipbreaking workers held protest demonstration at Karachi Press Club and pressing for their demands to left ban on work and observance of OSH standards.

For more information, contact:
Deputy General Secretary,
National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF)
Office No. 726, Mashriq Centre, Gulshan-e-Iqbal,
Block No. 14, National Stadium Road, Karachi, Pakistan
Tel: +92-21-7075324
Fax: +92-21-34853685
Cell: +92-300-3587211