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Pakistan: Shipbreaking accident victims receive compensation

23 February, 2017After a series of protests by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), victims of the massive accident at Gadani shipbreaking yard received compensation on 9th February 2017.

 On 1 November 2016, Pakistan witnessed one of the worst industrial accidents in its history at Gadani Shipbreaking yard in Baluchistan province. The oil tanker blast claimed the lives of 26 workers, while 19 were injured.

After three months and series of protests by IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the NTUF, a total of 45 workers received compensation from the government of Pakistan and the employer of the shipbreaking yard. Families of each of the 26 deceased workers received compensation of PKR 1.5 million (US $14,217). PKR 1.1 million was paid directly by the employer and the Commissioner office for Workmen Compensation paid PKR 4,00,000.

Subsequently, the workers’ welfare board will also pay PKR 5,00,000 (US  $4,739) as a death grant to each of the deceased workers’ families, which will make the total compensation amount PKR 2 million (US $18, 956).

Nineteen injured workers also received three different categories of compensation of PKR 1,00,000 (US $948) paid to eight workers, PKR 50,000 (US $474) paid to ten workers, while one worker received PKR 20,000 (US $190).

The NTUF, which organizes shipbreaking workers, held a series of protests and press conferences highlighting the problems faced by the shipbreaking workers. The NTUF played an important role in ensuring that victims of the accident receive compensation.

Nasir Mansoor of the NTUF said:

“We are disappointed that the compensation is less than we demanded. However, because of our consistent protests, shipbreaking workers were paid, which has never happened in the past.

“We are concerned that even after such a horrific accident, workers at the Gadani shipbreaking yard still work in dangerous conditions. Safety and protective equipment is not provided to workers.”

“No initiative has been taken by the government to provide training to workers on safe working methods. Workers and their families still have no access to safe drinking water, clean food and residential places.

“More importantly, no hospital or medical treatment facilities are available at the Gadani shipbreaking yard. We will continue to work hard to ensure the safety of shipbreaking workers”

The NTUF has developed a draft shipbreaking code, based on existing international regulations and standards. It has called on the provincial government of Baluchistan to hold tripartite meetings along with shipbreaking employers and workers representatives to adopt legislation to ensure safety at shipbreaking yards.
Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL director for shipbuilding and shipbreaking said:

“This is an important first step to change the situation in the Gadani shipbreaking yard, which is the worst of the worst.

"The provincial government of Baluchistan must act urgently to improve safety and inspection of the shipbreaking yards based on the code developed by NTUF. And it is time for Pakistan to ratify the Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sustainable Recycling of Ships.”