Union leader calls for an end to the deaths in the shipbreaking
yards of Bangladesh and India
13 October 2010
Derek Simpson, joint leader of Unite, today (13 October)
demanded that there should be no more deaths in the shipyards of
Bangladesh and India following the recent deaths of three workers
in a shipbreaking yard in Bangladesh.
Workers Uniting, the global union which includes Unite, vowed to
do everything in its power to end the horrendous working conditions
in shipbreaking yards.The global union will launch an international
campaign to raise awareness of the plight of workers breaking the
world’s ships, and to force a total overhaul of the yards. 95 per
cent of old ships are broken up and recycled on the beaches of
Bangladesh, India, China, Pakistan and Turkey in the most appalling
On Saturday evening, 9 October, three more ship breakers were
crushed to death and many injured in the Sima Steel yard,
Chittagong in Bangladesh. 20 year old Mr. Kalam, 30 year old Mr.
Faruk and 35 year old Mr. Bashar were killed while trying to pull
down a piece of a ship, which fell and crushed them. 12 workers
were involved in this operation and it appears that several were
30,000 Bangladeshi workers, some of them children just 10, 11,
12 and 13 years of age, toil 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for
wages of just 22 to 32 cents an hour, doing one of the most
dangerous jobs in the world. According to estimates between 1,000
and 2,000 workers have been killed in Bangladesh's shipbreaking
yards over the last 30 years (see notes to editors).
Currently, a worker is seriously injured every day, and a worker
is killed every three or four weeks.
Some of the world's largest decommissioned tanker ships -
measuring up to 1,000 feet long, 20 stories high and weighing 25
million pounds - have been run up on the beaches of Bangladesh. In
July 2009, 112 tanker ships were strewn over four miles of
Derek Simpson, Unite joint general secretary, said: "The three
recent and tragic deaths in the shipbreaking yards of Bangladesh
must be the last. No matter where workers are in the world they
should not have to face death to barely feed and clothe their
"Workers Uniting - the global union - will be doing everything
in its power to end the horrendous working conditions in
Bangladesh. The union intends to launch an international campaign
to reform these shipbreaking yards.
"There should be work, it is a vital industry for tens of
thousands of people for whom no alternative employment exists, but
the working conditions must be totally overhauled and the bosses
held to account for the deaths of workers and the appalling
Notes to editors
Workers Uniting, the world’s first global union is a partnership
between Unite from the United Kingdom and the United Steelworkers
(USW) from the United States and Canada.
Information on the
Workers Uniting shipbreaking campaign.
Contact: Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
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