Archive for October 2009

Shipbreaking in Bangladesh

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Bellow is an excerpt from an email the National Labor Committee sent out recently.  The stories sketched out in the email gave added perspective to my recent job hunting.  I’ve never been wealthy (by North American Standards), but stories like those bellow remind me that I’ve never been poor either.  What do you think the chances are of getting Mike Rowe to do an episode of Dirty Jobs in Bangladesh?

FROM:    Charlie Kernaghan

RE:        Four more workers killed in Bangladesh’s shipbreaking yards

Dear Friends,

Workers continue to be maimed and killed in Bangladesh’s shipbreaking yards.  Just last week we wrote you of three workers who were crushed to death at the Crystal shipbreaking yard on October 8 when a huge steel plate fell on them.  (The ship they were dismantling carried the International Maritime Organizationregistry number 7435474.)

Since then, four more workers have been needlessly killed.  At the Pakija shipbreaking yard, on the morning of October 13, three workers died after inhaling poisonous gas fumes.  The young men-including a 17-year-old boy-were cutting up a gas tank on the ship when they were overcome by the fumes.  The three dead workers are Mr. Mamun, 17 years old, Mr. Embram Hossain and Mr. Nasir Uddin, both 25.  (The ship the workers were breaking apart carried the International Maritime Organization registry number 7913 816.)  To date, the dead workers’ families have not received a single cent in compensation from the shipyard owner.

On the very next day, October 14, another worker was killed at 12:30 p.m. at the Habib shipbreaking yard.  Twenty-eight year old Mr. Jahangir Alam was crushed when a large iron plate fell on him.  There are currently two ships being dismantled in the Habib yard, La Forge Nassau and BW Rachel Stavan.  The dead man’s family has not received any compensation from the wealthy shipyard owner. (In February 2009, two workers were killed at the Habib shipyard, Mr. Sakhowat and 20 year old Mr. Tipu, when they were crushed by falling metal.)

To date, this brings the death toll to 17 workers in 2009, meaning on average a worker is being killed every two weeks in the shipbreaking yards, while at least one worker is seriously maimed every single day.

The three burned workers who survived the fire at the Kabir shipyard-which killed two of their colleagues on September 5-have been released from the hospital.  It will be months of bed rest before it will be known if the workers can resume a normal life and whether they will be able to work again.  Management paid the severely burned workers $43.50 each and sent them on their way!

Here is a link to an earlier NLC report on shipbreaking.


Written by Aaron Nee

October 20, 2009 at 1:20 pm