06 December 2011

Torture camp conditions in Pakistan shipbreaking industry :

As many as 15,000 ship breaking workers have been employed on mere verbal orders on very low wages.

According to the National Trade Unions Federation (NTUF), Pakistan, these workers appointed for the purpose of shipbreaking at Gadani were never allowed any health facility, social security, and other due benefits due to one reason or another. A labour leader and Deputy General Secretary National Trade Union Federation, Nasir Mansoor, said that the shipbreaking industry was set up in 1967 at 127 plots where some 140 ships were broken every year.

He alleged that the Gadani Ship Breaking Yard had become an iron death trap for workers, but no one was there to fight for the fundamental right to life and other legal rights.

Nasir highlighted that the shipbreaking industry was one of the most hazardous industries in respect of workers’ safety at the workplace. Due to the high level of consciousness of the trade union movement, the industry has been moving from one region to another where workers’ rights were not being protected in accordance with labour laws. Besides, no environmental laws were also being followed in treating shipbreaking workers.

Pakistan is one of those countries on the world map where local and international laws and the ILO conventions are simply ignored and shipbreaking is the worst case as compared to other sectors all over Pakistan, Mansoor said.

In more than 72 working shipbreaking yards, nearly 43 ships have been dismantled at the moment at Gadani, spread over 12 kilometres along the Arabian Sea, 45 kilometres west of Karachi. Approximately 8,000 workers have been engaged in different trades of the dismantling processes. At peak time, the strength of workers is as high as 15,000.

Twenty-five workers have died and many others severely injured over the last ten months, Mansoor says. A majority of these frightening accidents went unnoticed due to the alleged collaborations among the police, the administration, contractors and the ship owners.

He alleged that at times even religious rituals for the dead workers were not allowed to be performed.

The bodies were straight away removed from the scene, packed in coffins and shifted to the workers’ ancestral towns, majority of whom hailed from northern and central parts of the country.

Mansoor disclosed that on November 15 a worker slipped from the crane working on the edge and fell about 100 metres from the top of the ship. The accident was not reported and no first information report was lodged.

The sole representative on the workers the union was put under ban 2 years ago and this was why no one was representing the poor shipbreaking workers, Mansoor concluded.

Source: The News. 5 December 2011. By Zaib Azkaar Hussain

1 comment:

Tridib said...

How Pakistani shipbreakers manage to keep them out of internet or print media most of the times? According to this report 25 shipbreaking workers died so far this year at Gadani. But how those were not reported in the Pakistani news papers?
No major accidents or deaths in the shipbreaking yards in Chittagong, Bangladesh remained unreported for over decades.