14 June 2010

Pakistan Shipbreaking Workers on Strike in Gadani, Balochistan:

The grievances are not anomalous, of course. But, the state of the labor movement being what it is, this level of organized militancy is certainly atypical — and, it goes without saying, something that one hopes will spread.

Nasir Mansoor’s full report below:

15,000 workers of shipbreaking site at Gadani ( Balochistan) are going on all out strike from Tuesday 15th June for indefinite period.

The Gadani Shipbreaking Democratic Workers Union representing one of strongest militant workers contingent has given a legal strike notice on Saturday, 12 June to more than 40 owners of shipbreaking sites with demands to raise the daily wages, medical cover, adequate occupational safety measure and betterment in severe working conditions. The time period (3 days in legal term) of strike notice from the union is ended tonight and now workers have no choice but to go on strike to press for their just demands.

It was one and half year ago when owners negotiated with workers representatives and accepted some demands of the workers but now they haven’t been in mood to come in term with workers demands. It is interesting to note that there is boom in shipbreaking sector with huge profit since last agreement but workers have not being paid fairly out of this bumper profit.

Workers of shipbreaking are paid very low [6000 to 7500 Pakistani rupees (less than USD 100) monthly] with long working hours stretched from 10 to 15 hours and they have to work in very hazardous and dangerous conditions without any precautionary and safety measures. No proper canteen and residence for the shipbreaking workers.

There is no properly equipped hospital to cater the immediate needs of workers in case of emergency and accident at work place; workers are not cover under any health and security nets. Due to this working environment 17 workers have been died during the work with in one year with out any compensation from government or shipbreaking companies.

Due to all these condition their was great panic among workers and they have been forcing the union to start negotiation with employers on their basic demands but employers and managements are least bother about the demand and have not given any wait and serious thought to meet the demand or even start negotiation with workers’ representatives till filling of this report. They just requested to postpone the strike for day which was rejected by the union leaders with whole heartily consent of the workers.

Now workers are in very defiant and militant mood and their leader told me half an hour ago that complete strike will be observed from 7 am tomorrow till acceptance of their demands such as -

  • raise in wages
  • proper medical facilities
  • adequate safety measures at workplace
  • better working conditions
All friends of workers are requested to come forward and stand up with them.

Nasir Mansoor
Deputy General Secretary
National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan

Source: Progressive Pakistan. 14 June 2010

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