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Pakistani Unions Call for Shipbreaking Reform

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Shahzeb Jillani / twitter

By MarEx 2016-11-09 21:24:09

In Peshawar, Pakistan, unions and activists gathered on Wednesday to mourn the loss of 26 workers in the recent shipbreaking accident in Gadani, and to call for compensation for their next of kin. 

The protesters called for swift government action to reform the shipbreaking sector and labor conditions in Pakistan generally, including:

- criminal charges for those found responsible for the accident;
- a judicial probe into any government oversight failures;
- better national legislation covering worker safety;
- and $50,000 in compensation for next of kin, and $15,000 for families of the injured.

In addition, the coalition cited reports that ambulances were not available to carry victims of the Gadani accident to the hospital, and called for better provision of emergency services for injured workers.

Organizer Shakeel Wahidullah Khan told Dawn News that the government had repeatedly turned a blind eye to labor law violations, leading to extreme health and safety risks in the workplace. 

The coalition warned that they would stage strikes if the government did not ensure compensation for the accident's survivors.

The death toll from the November 1 explosion on the beached FPSO has continued to rise, and presently sits at 26. 22 were found at the scene; an additional four wounded workers could not be saved and perished at hospital. 

Several theories for the cause of the explosion have been circulated, but all involve some quantity of petroleum residue within the vessel, which ignited when sparked by a cutting torch. An investigation into the incident continues. 

The police in Gadani have arrested the head of the local shipbreaker's association and the job foreman at the FPSO's scrapping site. They have also opened cases against two additional suspects; Mansoor called for criminal charges against the shipbreakers' association as a whole.