South Asian Shipbreaking Workers Assert Rights

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

May 4, 2018

Photo: NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Photo: NGO Shipbreaking Platform

 In Chittagong, Bangladesh, on the International Labour Day of 1 May, the Platform member organisation YPSA brought together shipbreaking workers for a demonstration to claim their right for a healthy and safe workplace.

OSHE, another Platform member, and YPSA also organised demonstrations on the World Day for Health at Work, on 28 April. Concerns related to especially the vulnerability of young workers in hazardous occupations such as shipbreaking were raised, and the call for safe working conditions was joined by prominent trade union representatives.
These events have taken place at a time when the shipbreaking industry has seen a high number of accidents occurring in the yards in the first quarter of this year, with already 10 workers who have lost their lives.
In Pakistan, the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), member of IndustriAll, has been officially recognised as a trade union in the re-rolling mills. The mills in Gadani receive the scrap metal that originates from, amongst other, the shipbreaking activities and employ about 15,000 workers. 
Whilst NTUF has faced difficulties in being recognised as a trade union at the shipbreaking yards in Gadani, its acceptance as a collective bargaining association at the re-rolling mills will greatly benefit the workers who do not have a written contract and work in precarious conditions.
“Official recognition of the re-rolling mill workers’ union is an important achievement and will pave the way for the union being able to improve working conditions, health and safety, social security and wages”, said Nasir Mansoor from NTUF.
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