30 April 2011

Bangladesh Shipbreaking Policy:

Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on labour and employment ministry Md Israfil Alam here yesterday said they would submit a comprehensive report comprising recommendations on ship-breaking industry to the government within 15 days.

The government would formulate a ship-breaking policy based on that report and also form a wage board for workers at ship-breaking yards, he said.

Israfil was talking to journalists at the residence of local Awami League lawmaker Abul Kashem Master after the committee led a 21-member team on an inspection at four ship-breaking yards at Sitakunda upazila.

The team comprised of State Minister Munnujan Sufian of the ministry and the committee members Zakir Hossain and Noni Gopal Mandal, also lawmakers.

The yards are Mabiya Ship Yard; Unique Traders Ship Yard, owned by Kashem's son; and Seiko Ship Yard, situated at Baro Aulia, and SN Corporation in Shitalpur.

Though the yard owners said they remain closed on Friday, the team found workers waiting for them, wearing safety equipment like helmets and gloves. A number of banners were also seen welcoming the inspection.

Kashem and leaders of Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association (BSBA) were seen guiding the team. Munnujan at one stage expressed her dissatisfaction that BSBA leaders were taking them to the yards of their choosing and not of the team's.

At one point of the inspection, Kashem made slanderous comments against Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), a non-government organisation that raised voice against environmental degradation in the area, in presence of Munnujan.

“Bela should be buried,” he said, urging Munnujan to exclude Bela from the committee formed to prepare the policy.

When asked about visiting only four shipyards out of 125 set up along the 13-kilometre beach from Salimpur to North Sonaichhari, Israfil claimed they visited 13 yards.

He expressed outrage at the journalist who raised the question and accused him of trying to make the team controversial, saying, “We are neither representing the owners nor the workers and nobody is guiding us.”

Source: The Daily Star. Staff Correspondent, Chittagong. Saturday, April 23, 2011

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