Unsafe working conditions continue to kill miners in Pakistan

25.02.2016

Three coal miners were killed by poisonous gas in a mine in the Duki area in Pakistan on 19 February.

The coal mines in Duki have become killing fields, with workers’ lives often put in danger. According to reports from IndustriALL Global Union affiliate Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation (PCMLF), in January 2016 accidents claimed the lives of three workers in the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation-owned Sor-range mine in Quetta, and two workers in the Chamalang coal mines at Loralai. In February 2015, eight workers were killed and a further 14 were injured when a mine collapsed in Duki.

Despite a heavy loss of lives in recent years, the government of Pakistan has not taken adequate steps to ensure safe working conditions in the mines.

Most of the workers in Pakistan’s mining industry are precarious workers recruited through a complicated system of subcontracting. Hazardous, unsafe working conditions, low wages and lack of social security benefits are some of the major issues faced by workers. All three victims of the most recent accident were natives of Afghanistan.

Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL, says:

It is unacceptable that the death of mineworkers has become part and parcel of coal mining in Pakistan. IndustriALL send our condolences and solidarity to the families of the three mineworkers who died in this accident.

We call on the government of Pakistan to urgently ratify ILO Convention 176 on Health and Safety in Mines and, as matter of extreme urgency, implement the ILO Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Underground Coal Mines, as recommended by the Meeting of Experts on Safety and Health in Coal Mines.

The president of IndustriALL Pakistan Council (IPC) and General Secretary of PCMLF, Sultan Muhammad Khan said that around 120 coal mines in different part of Balochistan have poor safety measures.

The government must take immediate steps to ensure safe working conditions to avoid fatal accidents in coalfields such as Sorrange, Marwar, Duki, Mach, Chamalang, Sharigh, which continue to be dangerous places for work.