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Again, workers are killed at shipbreaking yard in India

8 October, 2012Six shipbreaking workers were killed and one worker was seriously injured on 6 October 2012 in a fatal incident at the Alang Ship Breaking Yard in the state of Gujarat in India.

The six shipbreaking workers were killed and one worker was seriously injured at the world’s largest shipbreaking yard after a fire broke out on Friday 6 October. The incident occurred at about 11:30am at plot No. 82 when the workers were working in the pump room of an oil tanker. The injured worker is in a serious condition after being admitted to a hospital in Bhavnagar which is 50km away from the plot. All victims of this horrific accident are migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh.

The names and age of the workers who weree killed as follows:

  • Subhash Yadav (28)
  • Ram Milan (36)
  • Sanjay Devki Yadav (22)
  • Ajay Kumar Chaudhary (22)
  • Harilal Chaudhary (26)
  • Dharmender Chaudhary Ramkumar (22)

The injured person is as follows:   

  • Ramashish Sahani (32)

According to the records of the IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, Alang Sosiya Ship Recycling and General Workers' Association (ASSRGWA), since January 2009 more than 54 workers have died at work in the Alang shipbreaking yards. Most of the workers are migrants from poor areas of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Gujarat and work for meager wages in one of the most hazardous and toxic working conditions on earth. In most of the cases, fatal accidents occurred either by explosion or fire.

This time, the tragedy happened just a day before a rally against precarious work that ASSRGWA had scheduled on 7 October. As the union must concentrate on the funeral and meeting with the employer and the state authorities, the rally has been postponed.

The ASSRGWA is demanding a comprehensive inquiry into this industrial accident including constituting a Commission of Judicial Enquiry in to the cause and consequences of the industrial accident

The shipbreaking workers' union ASSRGWA, also called upon the Chief Minister of Gujarat to ensure prompt identification and punishment of people who are responsible for this accident and appropriate compensation and social security benefits for the families of the deceased.  

Since 1990s, many international conventions and guidelines have been introduced to improve the health and safety conditions and environment in the shipbreaking industry. International organizations, such as UNEP, ILO, IMO,  have been making efforts to improve the working condition and environment in the shipbreaking industry such as UNEP Basel Convention, ILO Safety and Health guidelines on shipbreaking for Asian countries and Turkey, and IMO Guideline on Ship Recycling. However, in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the implementation of those guidelines in the workplace have been ignored, and the shipbreaking workers are still not treated as human beings.

IndustriALL Global Union continues to support the efforts of the shipbreaking workers in Alang and their union in their struggle.