Accidents at Seiko Steel and Laskar shipbreaking yards in Sitakunda Upazila claimed four lives and injured three workers.
Workers continue to die and be maimed for life in shipbreaking yards, as the Bangladeshi government fails to take action against the gross negligence of employers in ensuring safe working conditions.
An accident at Seiko Steel on 23 May 2016 led to the death of shipbreaking worker Rubel Meah. At the same yard on 29 May 2016, Mohammad Rana (30) died on the spot as a huge steel plate fell on him. Four other workers were injured. On 31 May, one of the injured workers, Abdul Karim (29), succumbed to his injuries in hospital.
The condition of the other three hospitalized workers, Zahidul (25), Belal (45) and Ripon (25), is reported to be stable at the time of writing.
Subsequently, IndustriALL Bangladesh affiliates report that another worker, Mohammad Babul (35), died in an accident at Laskar shipbreaking yard on 5 June 2016. With these recent accidents, in the first five months of 2016, a total of 10 workers died in Bangladeshi shipbreaking yards. According to government’s own estimate, 16 shipbreaking workers lost their lives in 2014, and at least 13 workers were killed in 2015.
Condemning the incessant accidents and loss of life, Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL, in a letter to the prime minister of Bangladesh on 6 June 2016, said:
“Lack of action by the government of Bangladesh, as workers continue to die in the process of earning a livelihood, indeed validates employers’ dereliction towards safety of workers at the shipbreaking yards. These accidents, which are preventable, must end immediately.”
To uphold workers’ right to safe working conditions at shipbreaking yards, IndustriALL calls upon the government of Bangladesh to send a strong signal by acting tough against employers who failed to provide safe working conditions, in this case, proprietors of Seiko Steel and Laskar shipbreaking yard. The government should ensure that accident victims are provided appropriate compensation.
The letter reiterated IndustriALL’s demand for strengthening supervisory mechanisms and urged the government to be decisive and immediately implement the newly revised Bangladesh Ship Recycling Act 2015, and to accelerate steps to ratify the Hong Kong Convention.