1 December, 2023According to IndustriALL’s affiliates, at least a hundred workers were killed, while fifty more sustained serious injuries in accidents at coal mines in Pakistan this year.
Mining in Pakistan is infamous for its hazardous working conditions and high incidence of workplace accidents resulting in fatalities and injuries. The situation is even more appalling in unregistered mines. This year alone, in Duki mining area, at least seventeen workers have been killed.
Safety mechanisms, mandated by the country laws, are inadequate in unregistered mines. There are no hospitals or clinics available near mining sites, which results in deaths of injured miners on their way to receive care and treatment. The country law requires one doctor and one ambulance to be stationed in mining areas, but in reality no such facilities are available for the workers.
In addition to the extremely inadequate facilities and infrastructure, mine workers at unregistered mines are not provided with any training to carry out mining operations safely. Headlamps frequently malfunction and mining sites lack warning systems to alert workers to potential dangers like gas leaks or flooding. In the event of a mine roof collapse, there is no system in place to warn the workers. The complete lack of proper supervision at work which further increases occupational hazards.
The situation for workers in government-controlled mines is marginally better, but at least fourteen people have died in mines run by the Pakistan Development Mines Corporation this year, indicating that workplace safety remains compromised even in government-controlled mines.
Over the last one year, IndustriALL Global Union has organized health and safety workshops for mine workers at both registered and unregistered mines. Mine inspectors from the government department have been invited to talk about safe mining practices. The presence of mine inspectors is crucial as it puts workers in unregistered mines in direct contact with the government department, thereby bolstering advocacy efforts for safe mining practices.
IndustriALL organized a roundtable with government representatives, employers, and trade unions to discuss how to best ensure workplace safety in mining areas. The need for ratification of ILO C176 by Pakistan’s government was also discussed. IndustriALL has been advocating with the government of Pakistan for the ratification of ILO C176.
IndustriALL affiliates have organized registration drives to get mine workers enrolled in the country’s social security schemes, as currently the majority of workers have been left out.
Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL South Asia regional secretary, says:
“Most of the deaths that occur in Pakistan’s mines are entirely avoidable if employers and government departments fulfil their responsibilities to ensure a safe workplace for workers. IndustriALL believes that the ratification of ILO C176 by Pakistan can help in better implementation of safety provisions at mining sites. We urge the government to immediately ratify ILO C176 and prevent workers from losing their lives.”