Seven ship-breaking workers die in one week
The IMF gave an urgent call for an end to barbaric deaths in the ship-breaking yards in Bangladesh after seven workers died in one week of October 2009.
Md. Jahangir Alam, a ship-breaking worker who had migrated from the poverty-stricken Rangpur district to work at the Habib steel ship-breaking yard in Chittagong, Bangladesh, died as a result of an accident at work on 12 October 2009. He was the seventh Bangladeshi ship-breaking worker to die in a week.
Three other ship-breaking workers at the Pakija shipyard died from inhaling poisonous gases on 11 October, just three days after three other workers were smashed to death by an iron-plate at the Crystal shipyard on 8 October.
‘The labour law is being blatantly violated and the police have recorded these incidents as unnatural deaths,’ reports Mojibur Rahman Bhuiyan, General Secretary of IMF affiliate the Bangladesh Metalworkers’ League.
At a meeting between Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad (SKOP), an organization of workers and employees’ organizations, and the Bangladesh State Labour Minister, on 15 October, Bhuiyan demanded that the Minister investigate and punish the companies responsible for the deaths.
‘This is murder by shipyard owners and we demand exemplary punishment. We can not allow this to happen anymore. No one can take advantage of poverty and unemployment. The government has a responsibility to create decent jobs,’ Bhuiyan said to the Minister.
BML also demanded a mechanism for inspecting the ships before they enter into the Bangladeshi territory. BML also appealed for international solidarity to ‘stop these barbaric killings’. The IMF also sent a letter to the Bangladeshi State Labour Minister in support of the ship-breaking workers, calling for immediate action to respect the rights and improve the health, safety and welfare of ship-breaking workers in Bangladesh.
Source: Anita Gardner, IMF, 22 October 2009
50 injured in Bangladesh labour unrest: police
According to the Dhaka Police, on 31 October 2009, more than 50 workers were injured, as police fired rubber bullets at thousands of protesting garment factory workers. Theworkers were protesting over unpaid wages in an industrial hub north of Dhaka. In its defence, the District Police Chief Mahfuzul Haq Nuruzzaman told AFP at least 10,000 workers attacked police with stones and bricks, prompting them to retaliate with rubber bullets and tear gas. At least 50 workers and a number of police officers were injured in the clashes, police sub-inspector Maleka Begum said.
However according to a private news channel the Bangla Vision, at least two workers and two policemen were killed and more than 100 labourers injured, many with bullet wounds, in the fierce clashes.
‘The workers of Nippon garment were demanding unpaid wages after the owners shut down the factory without prior notice. The angry workers became unruly this morning and attacked police,’ Begum said. The workers also damaged and torched vehicles and erected barricades on a key highway, cutting communications between the capital and northern districts of Bangladesh, she added.
The global economic crisis has affected the garment sector in Bangladesh and the factories in the South Asian nation have been hit hard with several of them cutting wages to compete for orders with other producing countries, such as Vietnam, China and India. Inexpensive clothing accounts for 80 percent of Bangladesh’s exports, which are vital to the economy. Forty percent of Bangladesh’s industrial workforce is employed in the garment sector.
Source: Agence France-Presse (AFP), 31 October 2009