Home News Pakistan Ship-breaking Industry: 15000 vessels expected to be scrapped in 10 years

Pakistan Ship-breaking Industry: 15000 vessels expected to be scrapped in 10 years

Pakistan Ship-breaking Industry: 15000 vessels expected to be scrapped in 10 years
File Photo - Fire after explosion in a ship - photo courtesy: IndustriALL Global Union

Workers demand enforcement of Hong Kong Convention as Gadani Ship-breaking Industry is notorious for fires, explosions and other mishaps due to lack of safety measures

Staff Report

Karachi, Sindh

The ship breaking industry in Gadani area of Pakistan’s Balochistan province is notorious for fires, explosions and other mishaps due to lack of safety measures, as these ship breaking yards witnesses fatal incidents almost every year, speakers said at a seminar on Saturday.

The seminar, organized by National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) in Karachi called for the enforcement of Hong Kong Convention (HKC) that would not only bring a change in the lives of ship breaking workers but also ensure a boom in Pakistani economy.

They said ships at the end of their useful life are sold for recycling and brought to ship breaking yards for their dismantling. However, this dismantling process is highly dangerous for the health and safety of ship breaking workers on one hand and environment for the other as these junk ships contain hazardous materials like asbestos, oil, fuel, ballast water and sludge.

Seminar-Ship-breaking-Sindh Courier“It is estimated that in the next 10 years, from 2023-2032, some 15,000 vessels would be scrapped, doubling numbers as compared with the previous 10 years. It is natural that a large number of these dying ship would reach the third largest ship breaking yard of the world – Gadani. Located across a 10 km (6.2 mile) long beachfront at Gadani, in Balochistan province, about 40 km northwest of Karachi, this yard consists of 132 ship-breaking plots.

The speakers said that in November 2016, at least 28 workers died and more than two dozen others injured in a blast in tanker being dismantled at Gadani. However, such incidents were considered routine in Gadani, where shipbreaking workers faced dangerous working conditions, precarious work, poor wages, and non-implementation of labor law, hurdles in exercising the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, lack of health facilities and lack of access to clean drinking water.

Seminar-Ship-breaking-Sindh Courier-1After the November 2016 tragedy, the shipbreaking workers’ union submitted a draft law to improve safety in shipbreaking yards. Due to the struggle of Pakistani workers and their organizations, the history changed when in December 2023, Pakistan became the 23rd country to ratify the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. The Convention is set to come into force in June 2025.

In order for Pakistan’s shipbreaking yards to comply with the HKC standards, employers will need to upgrade their facilities, and the Pakistan government will need to ensure the implementation of the same. “As per the Convention, yards are required to have basic healthcare facilities, proper infrastructure as well as proper waste disposal mechanisms,” the speakers said.

Seminar-Ship-breaking-Sindh Courier-2The speakers said that in thousands of laborers toil in the ship-breaking industry under poor working conditions with dismally low safety standards.

They said that for decades the workers had been demanding improving working conditions at the Gadani ship breaking yard to save lives and limbs of the ship breaking workers.

Those who spoke included Muhammad Rafiq Baloch, and Nasir Mansoor (National Trade Union Federation Pakistan), Habibuddin Junaidi (Peoples Labor Bureau), Dr. Asghar Ali Dashti (Chairperson International Relation Department, Urdu Federal University), Zehra Khan (Home-based Women Workers Federation), Fatima Majeed (Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum), Bashir Menhmoodani (Ship Breaking Labor Union Gadani) and Washdil Baloch (Assistance Director, labor department Balochistan).

Related news: Fires at Gadani yards prompt authorities to shut down all shipbreaking activities






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