No safety steps yet de­spite six more deaths at Gadani

Enterprise - - National news -

Six more work­ers have died in ac­ci­dents at the Gadani ship break­ing yard since the hor­rific fire at a de­com­mis­sioned oil tanker there on Novem­ber 1, 2016 that killed 26 work­ers but no safety mea­sures have been taken yet.

“Although 32 work­ers have lost their lives at the Gadani ship break­ing yard in three ac­ci­dents since Novem­ber 1 last year, the au­thor­i­ties still haven’t both­ered to do any­thing for their safety,” Nasser Man­soor, the deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Na­tional Trade Unions’ Fed­er­a­tion said.

On Jan­uary 8, 2017, a young worker fell to his death from an ag­ing cargo ship, the Snow­don, at plot num­ber 69 as the lock of the emer­gency lifeboat he was sit­ting in gave way.

Then on Jan­uary 9, five work­ers were burnt to death as fire en­gulfed an LPG con­tainer beached for dis­man­tling at yard num­ber 60.

“From the quick suc­ces­sion of these in­ci­dents, it seems the de­com­mis­sioned ships’ own­ers and their con­trac­tors have been given a li­cence to kill labour­ers for the sake of their prof­its. That’s why they have been let off the hook with these ‘mur­ders’ ev­ery time and the loved ones of these de­ceased labour­ers have been re­ceiv­ing their dead bod­ies,” Man­soor said.

The “crim­i­nal neg­li­gence” of the gov­ern­ment, he added, could be gauged from the fact that when­ever such a disaster struck, a big fuss was cre­ated in the be­gin­ning, only to be “gone with the wind” af­ter some­time.

In the case of the Novem­ber 1 ac­ci­dent vic­tims, nei­ther has a con­clu­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tion been car­ried out nor those re­spon­si­ble have been taken to task. The next-of-kin of the vic­tims had still not been com­pen­sated. “The case of the four miss­ing work­ers has been put on the back­burner,” the NTUF leader said.

The gov­ern­ment, he said, had promised af­ter the Novem­ber 1 mishap that all ship-break­ing yards work­ers would be reg­is­tered with the req­ui­site de­part­ments and work­ers would be is­sued spe­cial iden­tity cards to en­able them to get pen­sion and so­cial se­cu­rity in ac­cor­dance with the law. It was also promised that health and safety mea­sures will be taken for the benefit of the work­ers but that too did not hap­pen.

Man­soor said the gov­ern­ment and the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties im­posed Sec­tion 144 at the ship-break­ing yard and shut the plant rather than im­me­di­ately im­ple­ment­ing safety mea­sures. This, he added, mil­i­tated against the in­ter­ests of the daily wa­gers. The ship­break­ing in­dus­try is cater­ing to 30 per­cent of the coun­try’s iron needs, with 10 mil­lion work­ers in­volved di­rectly and two mil­lion through the an­cil­lary in­dus­tries, like steel rerolling. The NTUF leader put for­ward the fol­low­ing de­mands Those re­spon­si­ble for these dis­as­ters be taken to task in ac­cor­dance with the law; all gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials found want­ing in their du­ties and in­volved in over­look­ing vi­tal facts be fired and booked for neg­li­gence; the next-of- kin of the vic­tims be com­pen­sated im­me­di­ately through the Balochis­tan High Court; the case of the four miss­ing work­ers be rein­ves­ti­gated and their next-of-kin be ap­prised of the truth; the find­ings com­mit­tees’ re­port be made public and req­ui­site re­forms be im­ple­mented; a work­ing code be for­mu­lated ac­cord­ing to the guide­lines pro­vided by the ILO; the con­tract sys­tem be abol­ished and work­ers should not be al­lowed to work amid in­hu­man con­di­tions; and the col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights of the work­ers be ac­knowl­edged and work­ers be al­lowed to form unions through col­lec­tively elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

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