Workers appeal for tighter rules in shipbreaking industry

LONDON, Oct 9, 2006 (AFP) – Indian shipbreaking workers on Monday called on industry chiefs meeting in London Monday for tighter regulations to cut the number of serious injuries and deaths in the sector, particularly in Asia. “We need the help of the world, we need the help of the people to help the workers,” Vidyadhar V. Rane, secretary of the Mumbai Port Trust Dock and General Employees’ Union, told a news conference here.

“Representation must be there and will help save the lives of workers from unsafe practices.”

Rane’s call came as he and a delegation of Indian workers arrived to lobby the International Maritime Organisation’s Marine Environment Protection Committee, which began a four-day meeting in London Monday.

Ninety-five percent of old ships are broken up and recycled on the beaches of India, Bangladesh, China, Pakistan and Turkey but its poorly-paid employees have to run the gauntlet of life-threatening hazards on a daily basis.

These include fire, explosions, falls from heights and exposure to asbestos, heavy metals and PVCs.

Recycling of ships is on the IMO’s agenda but the delegation and unions want a speedier implementation of internationally-agreed regulations on breaking up old ships to p