06 August 2017

Another ignored casualty

Ship-breaking yards can operate without the risk of personal injury lawsuits or workers’ health claims, but unfortunately, such is not the case. Protective equipment is sometimes absent or inadequate. The sandy beaches cannot sufficiently support the heavy equipment, which is thus prone to collapse. Many are injured from explosions when flammable gas is not removed from fuel tanks. In Bangladesh, a local watchdog group claims that one worker dies a week and one is injured per a day on average. The problem is caused by negligence from national governments, shipyard operators and former ship owners disregarding standard international safety rules and precautions.

Trade union activists and workers of asbestos-using industries called on the government to institute a mechanism for an immediate ban on all form of asbestos in the country. PHOTO: AFP

In Gadani ship-breaking yard, arguably the world’s second largest ship-breaking yard, another tragic accident occurred when a worker lost his life due to the lack of health and safety measures and facilities. Muhammad Shakir, 20, was killed as a heavy metal sheet fell on him during dismantling of a decommissioned vessel in Gadani. The victim hailed from Rahim Yar Khan in southern Punjab and worked as a helper at the yard. This is the seventh death in Gadani since last year’s November oil tanker tragedy that killed over 20 workers, jolted the authorities and drew their attention towards the risky nature of work at the ship-breaking yard.

This incident comes days after the representatives of the Ship Breaking Workers’ Union of Gadani and the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) extended an ultimatum that in case workers of the ship-breaking yard are not given their due rights by August 1st, they shall launch a movement that could culminate in a strike. Their demand included the requisite health and safety measures among other things. According to Nasir Mansoor, deputy secretary general of the NTUF, the government has done nothing to remedy the situation since last year’s tragedy. It is important for the government to take necessary measures and safety precautions for workers of an industry that has been giving millions in taxes.

Source: the express tribune. 02 July 2017

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