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United call for sustainable shipbreaking in Bangladesh

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25 March, 2019Representatives from unions, employers and the government in Bangladesh called for sustainable shipbreaking and effective social dialogue, at a meeting organized by IndustriALL Global Union in Chattogram on 11 March 2019.

The tripartite meeting, held with the support of FNV and the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS), reviewed the current issues facing shipbreaking workers, including implementation of labour legislation and occupational health and safety.

Participants underlined the importance and urgency of ratifying the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships adopted in 2009.

Shipbreaking sector unions reported that despite progress in forming unions, workers continue to face dangerous working conditions, low wages, precarious work and an unfavorable environment to exercise workers’ rights. They urged government of Bangladesh to expedite the process to ratify the Hong Kong Convention.

Representatives of the Bangladesh Ship Breakers and Recyclers Association emphasized that gradual improvements are being made towards sustainable recycling of ships and improvements in working conditions.

Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL Director for Shipbuilding and Shipbreaking sector said:

“It is important build effective social dialogue and intensify efforts to ratify and implement the Hong Kong Convention. It is encouraging to see that employers and the government are open to working together with unions to move towards a sustainable ship recycling industry.”

Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL South Asia Regional Secretary, said:

“Vulnerable working conditions in the shipbreaking sector can be effectively changed with tripartite initiatives. It is important to raise awareness of occupational health and safety issues and strengthen the political will towards the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships.”

The tripartite meeting committed to the campaign for the ratification of the Hong Kong Convention, as well as effective social dialogue for the betterment of workers and industry.

Participants agreed on the importance of improving government vigilance of yards to prevent workplace injury and death. Appropriate safety training should also be given to workers, as well as personal protective equipment, which they should be encouraged to use. All parties, which included the government, employers, and IndustriALL affiliated unions, committed to intensifying efforts towards a sustainable shipbreaking sector in Bangladesh.