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Pakistan: Shipbreaking workers win union rights

2 May, 2018In a significant achievement, workers at so called re-rolling mills near Pakistan's Gadani ship-breaking yard have received union registration and are now formally recognised as a collecive bargaining agent.

The re-rolling mills downstream from Gadani shipbreaking yard use the steel recovered from dismantled ships. Around 15,000 workers in 20 different mills will benefit from the registration of Rerolling Mills General Workers Union Hub.

The directorate of labour welfare in the Balochistan province has also officially recognized the union as collective bargaining agent for all workers of re-rolling mills in the area, and the union has opened an office to assist workers on day-to-day issues.

All re-rolling mill workers are precarious workers with no written contracts, and they are not covered under the social security system. Most of them are paid less than the statutory minimum wages and they are forced to work long  hours. With no protective equipment, the precarious workers face serious health and safety issues. In addition, they constantly face the risk of being fired without due process.

Nasir Mansoor from IndustriALL affiliate National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) says:

Official recognition of the re-rolling mill workers' union is an important achievement and will pave the way for the union being able to improve working conditions, health and safety, social security and wages. We will intensify our  efforts to organize more re-rolling mills workers in other cities.

Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL shipbreaking director says:

We congratulate the NTUF on this significant step forward in organizing precarious workers in the re-rolling mills. We hope that forming a union will enable workers to effectively defend their rights and demand their right to a safe working environment.