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Pakistan’s unsafe shipbreaking yard claims lives of two workers

19 January, 2024Two workers were killed at Gadani shipbreaking yard in Pakistan when a heavy iron plate fell onto them while working on a bulk carrier ship, on 16 January.

Over the years, many preventable deaths have occurred due to unsafe working conditions in Pakistan’s shipbreaking yards. This time, while dismantling the 26-year-old bulk carrier ship, Catherine Bright registered in Panama, workers named Qasim and Mustafa at yard no. 60 fell prey to hazardous working conditions.  

IndustriALL’s affiliate, the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), which organises shipbreaking workers in Pakistan, reported that workers at yards are compelled to work without safety gear, reflecting the serious lapses in workplace safety in the country. The union stated that the deceased workers’ bodies were hurriedly buried in the middle of the night. There was no post-mortem or criminal investigation done.

Nasir Mansoor, president of NTUF, says:

“Gadani shipbreaking yards are operating as zones devoid of law. There is no implementation of safety protocols and we often witness collusions between yard owners, police and government authorities in order to conceal the real causes behind these incidents and prevent the real culprits from being punished. We demand a proper investigation of the incident at yard no.60.”

Pakistan recently ratified the Hong Kong Convention (HKC) which will come into force in June 2025. To comply with the HKC standards, countries need to upgrade the infrastructure, healthcare facilities, as well as waste disposal mechanisms at shipbreaking yards. 

IndustriALL general secretary, Atle Høie, says:

“It’s appalling that two workers’ lives were lost due to lack of safety measures at a workplace. The Pakistan government must take workplace safety at shipbreaking yards seriously, especially in the light of the ratification of the HKC.”