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Pakistan: mine deaths highlight urgent need to ratify ILO C176

4 August, 2016Three workers have been killed and another seriously injured in an accident at the state-owned Shahrigh coalmine in Pakistan, emphasizing the urgent need for the country to ratify the ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines.

According to reports, a boulder fell on workers at the coalmine following a landslide on 24 July 2016.  Sabir Khan, Sardar Ali and Ameenullah died as result of their injuries, while Arfan Khan was seriously hurt. All victims are contract workers aged between 30 and 35.

IndustriALL Global Union is campaigning for more countries to ratify ILO Convention No.176 which requires a proper legal and inspection framework for mine safety and that companies create a safe working environment. It also gives workers the right to independent safety representatives and to refuse unsafe work.

Balochistan’s coalmines are known for their poor and hazardous working conditions. The recent accident took place at Shahrigh coalmine No. 18, which is located in Balochistan province and operated by the state owned Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC).

An IndustriALL survey of reported mine accidents since 2010 shows that 243 workers have died in around 40 mine accidents. Since January 2016 alone, 33 workers have died in incidents at Pakistan mines.

IndustriALL has reported on several mining deaths in Pakistan in 2016 alone, showing the critical problems faced by mine workers in the country that include precarious work, deadly working conditions, poor mine inspections, absence of basic and emergency medical care around mines and a callous attitude of employers and government officials towards workers and their safety.

IndustriALL Pakistan Council and Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation (PCMLF) have condemned the recent deaths, while IndustriALL’s regional secretary Apoorva Kaiwar said:

“It is unacceptable that avoidable deaths are continuing in Pakistan mines. It is high-time that the government, authorities and employers take safety issues seriously. In addition to implementing existing statutory provisions regarding mine operations, the government should take immediate steps to ratify ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines.”

ILO C176 has only been ratified by 31 countries - and many countries with the worst safety record have not signed up.