A 5 September deadly accident at the Shital yard in Chittagong underlined the importance of the global campaign for ratification of the Hong Kong Convention, aimed at making perilous ship breaking jobs safer.
A gas cylinder exploded killing four and injuring a further four members of IndustriALL Global Union’s major Bangladeshi affiliate the Bangladesh Metalworkers’ Federation (BMF). The injured workers suffered severe and life threatening burns. The accident occurred while the eight ship breakers were getting ready for work.
The names of the killed are Khokon, Moksedul, Alamin and Shajahan.
The BMF and the Shipbreaking Platform assembled on 10 September to demand action and change from the industry employers, conducting a human chain and protesting the shocking working conditions in the industry in Bangladesh.
On 14 September the BMF again formed a human chain demanding proper safety provisions at the Shital yard. BMF is also working to ensure proper compensation is paid to the families of the killed and injured workers.
At the time of the accident the Shital ship breaking yard had two ships docked for dismantling, one from Russia and one from Greece.
The Bangladeshi Shipbreaking Platform reports that in 2015 alone 12 shipbreaking workers have died on the job, and 17 more have been severely injured in the country’s ship yards.
IndustriALL Global Union is campaigning to clean up the industry. Ship building and ship breaking sector director Kan Matsuzaki states:
The IndustriALL affiliates in this sector are taking action as part of our campaign for ratification of the Hong Kong Convention. Over the last three weeks major trade unions in Japan, Germany, Australia and Denmark have reasserted their demand for their governments to ratify this international convention that will secure health & safety and save the workers’ lives.