Stop exploitation of shipbreaking workers

26.05.2009

IMF and EMF call for a new independent authority to govern ship breaking

EUROPE: In a joint submission to the European Commission, the International and European Metalworkers' Federations have called for the establishment of a new independent authority to regulate one of the world's most dangerous industries, ship-breaking.

The submission also calls for mandatory legislated standards after the failure of voluntary codes established by the International Labour Organisation, Basel Convention and International Maritime Organisation.

At present, ship breaking is concentrated in a few developing countries (mainly in Asia) on account of the low wages and lack of compliance with international standards on safety, health and lack of environmental controls offered in these nations.

"It is no longer acceptable that we close our eyes to the daily exploitation of ship breaking workers. Both IMF and EMF demand a safer and greener global system for dismantling ships. Our joint submission aims to give a voice to the affected workers and their concerns" states Jyrki Raina, the newly elected IMF General Secretary."

"By presenting a joint submission we hope that the Commission will

recognise the importance we place on this issue. The EU must not wait for the implementation of a new international instrument in 2015 as this will cost hundreds of lives. The EU must show leadership by creating the conditions for a European ship breaking sector that can set exemplary international standards", says Peter Scherrer, EMF General Secretary.

In their submission to a public consultation on ship breaking, the IMF and EMF call for immediate implementation of new measures to improve working conditions for ship breakers.

The submission calls for:

  • Mandatory, legislated workplace, labour right and environmental standards to be applied for ship breaking employers
  • All ship breaking processes to include standard inventories of all hazardous materials on board ships slated for dismantling
  • A clear role for trade unions in monitoring and regulation
  • Mandatory dismantling of all European military and government vessels with in the EU
  • The creation of a European ship breaking sector that can set exemplary international standards by being ecologically and socially responsible as well as economically, industrially and socially innovative.

A copy of the submission is published on the IMF website.