PeopleUK – Kids die breaking BRIT vessels

11 October 2009 - Kids as young as 10 are being forced to risk death breaking up British ships.

They get 13p an hour to do one of the world’s most dangerous jobs – dismantling tankers and other vessels full of lethal waste. Thousands of children with only baseball caps and flip-flops for protection labour in Bangladesh’s shipyards where 13 workers have died this year alone.

One worker is seriously hurt EVERY DAY on average. Campaigners last week wrote to PM Gordon Brown urging him to help end the scandal.

Clapped-out ships from across the globe – including Britain – are taken to 36 yards in ports such as Chittagong to be scrapped. The industry’s 30,000 workers risk horrific burns and other injuries, poisoning from fumes – and often death.

A quarter of them are under 18 and a shocking 3,000 are aged 10 to 12.

Campaigner Charles Kernaghan, of America’s National Labor Committee, said: “If there is a hell on earth, this is it.” Yard bosses pay shamefully low wages – allowing them to make huge profits.

About 100 ships are being dismantled in Bangladesh at any one time.

Mr Kernaghan said: “The workers say a dog means more to the business owner than a human being.”

Abdul Halim, 26, suffered horrendous burns when a gas tank burst into flames as he toiled for £1.75 a day.

Another worker was burned alive after an explosion. A boy of 13 was killed when an iron plate struck his head.

The National Labor Committee wrote to Mr Brown because he headed last month’s G20 summit.

It is calling for guarantees on workers’ rights.