16 January, 2023Workers’ lives continue to be in danger due to the unsafe working conditions at Bangladesh’s shipbreaking yards. Two accidents occurred on 12 January in two separate yards, killing one worker and severely injuring the other.
40-year old Rashedul Islam was killed at Tanseen Steels Ltd. after a rope used to pull a part of the ship from the sea, snapped and a heavy iron part hit him on the head. The accident took place at night which is against the safe work practices for shipbreaking.
In another accident, at APS Corporation, 35-year old Delwar was severely injured after a fire erupted while gas pipes were being cut inside the ship.
IndustriALL affiliates in Bangladesh, Bangladesh Metal Workers Federation (BMF) and Bangladesh Metal, Chemical, Garment and Tailor Workers Federation (BMCGTWF), are concerned about the safety of workers at the yards. Unions are currently assisting workers’ families to receive adequate compensation.
A. M. Nazimuddin, BMF president, says:
"Frequent accidents at the yards are taking away workers’ lives but the employers and the government are not taking any safety measures. It’s their responsibility to ensure workplace safety. National and international laws for safer yards must be strictly implemented.”
Shipbreaking is one of the world’s most dangerous jobs, where workers toil in precarious and unsafe working conditions, involving low wages and long hours. According to data compiled by IndustriALL in 2022, there were at least 35 accidents in the shipbreaking yards, killing at least six workers and severly injuring 31.
IndustriALL shipbreaking industry director Walton Pantland, says:
“These preventable and tragic accidents show why it is essential that Bangladesh ratifies the Hong Kong Convention this year. When the Convention comes into force, we can build a safe and sustainable ship recycling industry in South Asia.
“Workers need to be represented by strong unions so that they have the power to refuse unsafe work and establish workplace safety committees.”
Photo: Chittagong, Bangladesh. Credit: Adam Cohn, Flickr