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Pakistan: Shipbreaking workers win wage increase

14 August, 2017Shipbreaking Workers Union Gadani (SBWUG) called off their strike on 4 August after negotiations with the employers association yielded significant results, including a wage increase.

The 2016 oil tanker blast at the Gadani shipbreaking yard in Pakistan killed 26 workers and injured an additional 19. Despite promises from the employers, no improvements in working conditions have been made since the tragedy. Six more workers have lost their lives and many more have been injured in workplace accidents, workers’ wages have remained same and there has been no progress in social security registration for workers.

The SBWUG gave employers an ultimatum, calling for an indefinite strike at shipbreaking yards from 5 August if demands were not met. The union demanded 50 per cent wage increase, one week’s paid holiday, implementation of the shipbreaking code, health and safety measures, registration with the Employees Old Age Benefits Institution, and provision of social security cards.

An agreement was reached on 4 August, with a ten per cent wage increase for all categories of shipbreaking workers. In case of future accidents, cases will only be filed against employer or the management, not against supervisors or people  in charge of workers.

Nasir Mansoor, president of the National Trade Union Federation said:

“This is an important victory for shipbreaking workers. The employers did not seriously address the issues. It is only after we called for a strike that the employers came to the negotiation table and agreed on our main demands.

“However, we have long way to go to improve the working conditions in shipbreaking yards, we need the cooperation of the government authorities and employers.”

Pakistan’s Gadani shipbreaking yard in Balochistan province is one of the major destinations for end of life ships in South Asia. The IndustriALL affiliate NTUF has formed SBWUG and is working in the area to improve the working conditions and wages of shipbreaking workers.