The Express Tribune – Keeping it shipshape: NTUF wants safety standards for shipbreakers

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2 November 2014 - KARACHI: The National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) has demanded urgent improvements in the safety standards for the workers of Gadani’s shipbreaking industry.

“Thousands of workers are forced to work as slaves in one of the worst workplaces in Pakistan,” said NTUF deputy general secretary Nasir Manzoor and Gadani Shipbreaking Mazdoor Union president Bashir Mehmoodani in a joint statement on Saturday. “They face potential death threats every day because there are no safety measures in place.”

In the last three days, 15 workers have been injured in two accidents at Yard 107. The statement claimed that such accidents have been growing in frequency but there were still no emergency treatment facilities for the more than 15,000 workers at the Gadani shipbreaking yards.

The union leaders said that most of the workers had no social security or old-age registration, no appointment letters and no right to elect a collective bargaining agent. They added that there was no observance of the occupational safety and health standards outlined in international labour and shipbreaking conventions.

Manzoor and Mehmoodani also mentioned that an NTUF delegation had met the Balochistan chief minister last year but, despite his promises to tackle the issue, nothing had been done. They called for the arrests of the owners of yards where accidents occur due to negligence and asked the government to compensate injured workers and bear the costs of their treatment.