Balochistan and Karachi-based labour unionists have approached Balochistan Labour Secretary to re-register the Ship Breaking Democratic Workers Union Gaddni (SBDWU), as its registration was cancelled during the recent protest campaign.
Nasir Mansoor, National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) told TheNation that different labour leaders have approached the Labour Secretary Baloch Haider Ali Shikoh to re-register the SBDWU, and he has assured to do so.
Mansoor said that the ship industries’ owners were not willing to restore the registration of the union and in this regard they were also using their influence. He said that the registration of the union was cancelled as the union had recently launched a protest campaign tomorrow, in protest against very poor working conditions, torturous hours, and substandard wages.
The massive protests were sparked as some seventeen workers were reported to have died during the working hour, and their heirs were not provided compensations by the authorities. He said that the labour unions would jointly launch a protest campaign very soon for the rights of the Gaddani ship breaking industry. It is worth-mentioning that earlier, some 15,000 workers of ship breaking site at Gadani (Balochistan) had gone on strike on the call of SBDWU, more than 40 owners of ship breaking sites with demands to raise daily wages, medical cover, adequate occupational safety measure and betterment in severe working conditions.
On the other side, the SBDWU representatives said that around two years back the industries owners negotiated with workers representatives and accepted some demands of the workers but so far they haven’t been in mood to come in term with workers demands.
It is interesting to note that there is boom in ship breaking sector with huge profit since last agreement but workers have not being paid fairly out of this bumper profit.
Workers of ship breaking industry are paid very low (Rs6,000 to Rs7,500 monthly) wages with long working hours stretching from 10 hours to 15 hours and they had to work in very hazardous and dangerous conditions without any precautionary and safety measures besides there was no proper canteen and residence for the ship breaking workers.
There is no properly equipped hospital to cater to 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 had died during the work within one year with out any compensation from government or ship breaking companies.
Due to all these conditions, there was great panic among workers and they had 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 requested to postpone the strike for the day, which was rejected by the union leaders with whole heartily consent of the workers.
Source: The Nation, November 20, 2010