25 May 2012

Call to safeguard rights of shipbreaking workers:

KARACHI: National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) Pakistan on Thursday organised a seminar entitled “Boom in Ship Breaking Industry & Denial of Basic Labour Rights” at a local hotel to highlight the injustice being done against ship breaking yards’ workers.

Pointing out the injustice with workers, the speakers said that shipbreaking yard owners in Gaddani had been earning hefty profits each month but thousands of workers who made it possible because of their skills were yet forced to work and live like slaves.

On behalf of the workers, they demanded a 50% increase in wages, registration of all workers with social security and permission to form union and bargain collectively. Labour leaders said that billions of rupees were earned in profit in this thriving business but workers were deprived of all basic human and labourer rights as envisaged in the labour laws as well as the constitution.

They said majority of them work in very vulnerable conditions without any safety check with low wages and no medical facility, proper residential quarter or drinking water. Workers are being treated just like animals and not even a single one of them has been given an appointment letter. Contractors (Jamadars) act like ‘masters’ who enjoy full support of local police and administration while labour departments are least bother about the well being and better working conditions of the workers, they added.

On the occasion, they unanimously demanded that the right to form union be immediately restored, wages be increased by 50%, all workers be registered with Social Security and Employees Old Age Benefits Institution, safety at work place be ensured, medical hospital with all basic facilities be established, canteen with hygienic food be provided at subsidised rates, school and labour residential colony with water supply and sewerage system be provided and all federal, provincial and international labour laws be observed in letter and spirit.

Talking about the operations at breaking yard, they said that more than 60 big and small ships typically anchor at different Gaddani shipbreaking yards for dismantlement and nearly 15,000 workers directly or indirectly, were engaged in the process.

A minute of silence was also observed in respect of the martyrs of 22 May carnage in Karachi and a resolution condemning the fascist/racist arm gangs’ sinister designs against the working class to divide them on ethnic and lingual basis was passed. The seminar also strongly condemned the demand of Muhajir province and declared that working class stood for national and historical integrity and oneness of Sindh at all costs.

NTUF President Mohammed Rafiq Baloch presided over the seminar, while Habibuddin Junaidi Chairman of All Pakistan Trade Union Organisation, National Trade Union Federation Deputy General Secretary Nasir Mansoor, Farid Awan General Secretary of Pakistan Workers Confederation Sindh, Bashir Ahmed Mehmoodani President of Gadani Ship Breaking Democratic Workers Union, Tahir Khan Yusufzai General Secretary Gadani Ship Breaking Democratic Workers Union, Ghani Zaman Awan General Secretary Karachi Ship Yard Labour Union, Shehla Rizwan of Home Based Women Workers Federation and Shafi Ghori expressed their views.

Source: By Asad Farooq. 25 May 2012

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