KARACHI: The Ship Breaking Workers Union Gadani (SWUG) has once again urged the ship-breakers and the authorities to ensure labor rights and occupational safety and health at the yards.
Addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club on Thursday, SBWUG president Bashir Ahmed Mehmoodani deplored that the promises to ensure labor rights and safety at shipbreaking yards in Gadani were yet to materialize.
He was accompanied by National Trade Union Federation president Rafiq Baloch and deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor, SWUG general secretary Rehmbaz Khan and information secretary Abdul Samad.
The shipbreakers and the authorities had pledged to ensure labor rights, health and safety for the workers at Gadani after 26 people were killed and dozens others were wounded when a decommissioned oil tanker caught fire during dismantling on November 1 last year, he said.
“Highly deplorable that the situation is nearly the same as it was. The ship-breakers and the concerned government departments seem less bothered about the lives of the workers,” Mehmoodani remarked.
He said that according to the law and an agreement the ship breakers were ought to increase the salaries and wages of the workers as this fiscal year started on July 1. The ship owners avoided to negotiate with true representatives of workers but promotes hand picked element as union leaders who actually are contactors (jamadars).
“The ship breakers have been approached thrice on July 5, 19 and 25 on the matter but they haven’t yet started talks nor have given any satisfactory response,” he commented, adding that this behavior insinuates that they have not learned anything from the previous disasters.
The SWUG president said that after the November 1 tragedy the workers were pledged that their rights will be given and their health and safety will be ensured. “Nothing has been done but a mere show of health and safety equipment installation at a plot.”
He told that since the oil tanker incident six more workers had lost their lives in different incidents at Gadani this year and the casualties were still happening due to the lack of health and safety facilities.
“Gadani still looks for the hospital, ambulances fire fighting machinery it was promised. The workers still remain unregistered with EOBI and other institutions nor any measures have been taken to make a shipbreaking legislation,” he said.
He said that government had promised to introduced legislation for ship breaking industry to safe guard workers right but there was no progress witnessed. The NTUF had finalized “Ship breaking Bill ” draft and share it with stakeholders for more consultation to make it an act.
The SWUG and NTUF leaders demanded that workers should be given their due rights including increase in wages and health , safety measures must immediately be taken to save lives of workers & ship breaking law should be adopted. Workers representatives announced that they will start movement from next month including strike if their demands not accepted.