No safety steps yet despite six more deaths at Gadani
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.