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IndustriALL intensifies campaign to ratify Hong Kong Convention

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28 July, 2017IndustriALL Global Union and its affiliates ran two consecutive workshops in Bangladesh and India in July 2017 to discuss the importance of ratification Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships.

The Hong Kong Convention, adopted in 2009, provides regulations to ensure that ship recycling doe not pose unnecessary risk to human health, safety or the environment. IndustriALL and its affiliates have been actively engaged in demanding that governments ratify the Convention.

The IndustriALL workshop in Chittagong, from 17 to 18 July, was jointly organized by the Bangladesh Metalworkers’ Federation, the Bangladesh Metal Chemical Garments Tailors Workers Federation, the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies and the OSHE Foundation. The workshop witnessed dynamic participation by affiliates and delegates from the International Maritime Organization, civil society organizations (CSOs) and academics

Mujibul Haque, State Minister for labour and employment in Bangladesh also participated in the Chittagong workshop. He said:

“Officials from the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments should take stern action against the shipyard owners who are violating the existing laws and putting workers’ lives in danger. We will consult with other departments concerned and expedite the efforts to ratify to and implement the Hong Kong Convention.”

IndustriALL affiliate Alang Sosiya Shiprecycling General Workers’ Union (ASSRGWA) organized the workshop in Bhavnagar, India, which took place from 20-21 July. There was participation in the workshop from a varied number of stakeholders including representatives from shipbreaking workers’ unions, the employers’ federation, government officials, the Self Employed Women’s Association, as well as CSOs.

Participants underlined the need to improve the health and safety practices at the shipbreaking yards. They also decided to create awareness among workers of the Hong Kong Convention and take forward the ratification campaign. The local government officials, employers and ASSRGWA agreed to have social dialogue on regular basis, in order to develop concrete process to do so.

Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL director for shipbuilding and shipbreaking, said:

“So far only six countries have ratified the Hong Kong Convention. We need 14 more major countries engaged in shipbuilding, shipping and shipbreaking to ratify the Convention to make it enter into force. We are still witnessing serious and deadly accidents in the shipbreaking industry. To ensure safe and healthy working conditions in shipbreaking yards, at least shipbreaking countries in South Asia have to move forward to immediately ratify the Convention and implement it.”

South Asia is a major destination for ships at the end of their life. Giant ships around the world are beached on the shorelines of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and workers break them to retrieve steel and other parts which fuels economic activity in downstream industries. The South Asian shipbreaking industry is one of most dangerous industries in the world, where workers risk their lives and get maimed in the process of earning their livelihood.