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Guards open fire on shipbreaking workers in Bangladesh

1 April, 2016Seven people, including a 16-year-old boy, were injured after guards at a shipbreaking company in Bangladesh opened fire on people protesting against the death of a worker. 

Mohammad Sumon, was killed instantly when a truck transporting scrap steel from the Kabir Steel yard in Chittagong, ran him over on the morning on 28 March 2016.

On hearing about the accident, locals, co-workers and Sumon’s family members gathered at the scene. According to reports, factory authorities at Kabir Steel took the body inside and refused to hand it over to his relatives. With grief and anger they started to protest, blocking the Dhaka Chittagong highway in front of the factory for about two hours demanding punishment to the guilty. 

Factory guards, reportedly acting under orders from Kabir Steel, then opened fire on the demonstrators, injuring seven people identified as: Nurun Nabi (20), Delwar (24), Usman (25), Munna (20), Musammat Shahnaz (25), Shabuddin (18) and Samir Ahad (16).

IndustriALL Global Union has written to Prime Minister of Bangladesh to “condemn in the strongest terms” the shootings.

“We demand an investigation into why such brutal force was used against the protestors and the guilty must be punished,” said IndustriALL’s general secretary, Jyrki Raina. “We can no longer afford to continue the business as usual attitude as workers risk their lives every day at Bangladesh’s shipbreaking yards.

“IndustriALL calls upon the government of Bangladesh to ensure that accident victims are provided appropriate compensation and to punish employers who operate shipbreaking yards with gross negligence.”

The letter also urged the government to immediately implement the newly revised Bangladesh Ship Recycling Act 2015, and to accelerate steps to ratify the Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships.

The first three months of 2016 have witnessed the deaths of four workers at shipbreaking yards in Bangladesh:

On 12 March 2016, Mohammad Morselin, a 20-year-old shipbreaking worker fell from a ship while working at the SL Ship Breaking Yard in Kumira of Sitakunda Upazila. He died in hospital on 15 March 2016. Another worker, Minhaj (43), from the same yard also died on the same day. While it has been claimed that heatstroke caused his death, workers suspect that he may have died in an accident.

On 3 March 2016, Mohammad Shafiqul Islam Shikder (34) succumbed to injuries incurred while removing an air conditioning unit from aship, which fell on his thigh. He was working in the OWW ship yard owned by Mahsin Badsha.

On 20 January 2016 shipbreaking worker Akkas Mian (42) died as an iron plate fell on him during the dismantling of a ship at Asad Ship-breaking Yard at Madam Bibir Hat of Sitakunda Upazila.