The lives of thousands of Pakistani ship-breaking workers are at the stake because the country’s government is not properly implementing workplace safety and health rules at the yards,’ said a leading labour leader at a national rally this week.
The rally was called to mark the second anniversary of an accident at the Gadani ship breaking yard, in which 29 workers were killed, when a Japanese oil tanker caught fire and exploded.
Only 25 workers’ bodies were ever recovered, and more than another 50 workers received serious burn injuries.
Union boss Nasir Mansoor told the rally that despite a government-led investigation into the incident there was still no improvement in the lives and working conditions of thousands of ship breakers.
He added that “the government’s negative attitude means accidents are still occurring on a regular basis at Gadani”.
The union submitted a draft bill on ship breaking to the government after the incident but, according to Mansoor, the government had little interest in holding constructive talks on it or forcing the ship breaking industry to take measures to protect workers’ safety.
“The workers are forced to live in almost slavery conditions,” said Mansoor, insisting that “the fight to get labour laws implemented in the ship breaking sector” will continue.