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Shipbreaking industry set for transformation with Hong Kong Convention

28 June, 2023The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (Hong Kong Convention) will enter into force in June 2025, after Bangladesh and Liberia became contracting states to the Convention on 26 June 2023.

IndustriALL and its affiliates have been campaigning for years to clean up shipbreaking which is the world's most dangerous job. A key part of the campaign has been to push for the ratification of the International Maritime Organization’s Hong Kong Convention.

IndustriALL campaign

“Reporting on deaths linked to the shipbreaking industry has become all too common for us. Finally, shipbreaking workers and unions have the international convention in their hands, which sets out minimum standards and a first step towards creating a level playing field for a safe and sustainable future. This is a tangible victory for workers as a result of international solidarity,”

said Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL assistant general secretary.

“The continued efforts by IndustriALL through the campaign to clean up shipbreaking in various countries, especially in South Asia has yielded in a great success. Shipbreaking unions are ready to develop social dialogue with the government and employers to implement the convention on the ground,”

said Vidyadhar Rane, general secretary of ASSRGWA who is also a vice chairperson of IndustriALL Shipbuilding-Shipbreaking sector and part of IndustriALL Indian affiliate SMEFI.

Overall, the Hong Kong Convention plays a crucial role in promoting sustainable and responsible ship recycling practices. By addressing occupational health, safety and environmental concerns, it aims to safeguard workers' well-being, protect the marine environment, and establish a global standard for the ship recycling industry.

For the Hong Kong Convention to enter into force, it required ratification by at least 15 States, representing 40 per cent of the world’s merchant shipping by gross tonnage and a combined maximum annual ship recycling volume of no less than 3 per cent of their combined tonnage. One of the largest flag states, Liberia, and one of the largest ship recycling states, Bangladesh, allowed for the goal to be reached.

Now that these conditions are met, the convention will enter into force for the ratifying states within 24 months, and they will be bound by its provisions.

“All maritime states have responsibilities to provide, and workers have a right to expect safe, healthy, clean and sutainable jobs. While this is a huge victory our work is not done yet, we must continue the campaign for more countries to ratify. And trade unions will play a significant role in promoting and enforcing the provisions of the Hong Kong Convention,”

said Atle Høie, IndustriALL general secretary.