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Compensation for Gadani fire victims to be paid ‘within 15 days’

KARACHI: Heirs of the victims of the Nov 1 Gadani ship fire will get compensation “within the next 15 days” and a seven-member committee formed by Hub assistant commissioner Naeem Jan will distribute the cheques.

This was decided at a recent meeting held at Gadani between the trade union leaders, ship-breaking yard owners and representatives of the Balochistan government.

The meeting decided that the heirs of each victim will be given Rs2 million in compensation. The ship-breakers will give Rs1.5m while the Balochistan labour department will contribute Rs500,000.

It was decided that the injured would be paid compensation based on medical certificates issued by the “medico-legal officer of the hospital they were treated at”.

The issue of the ‘missing’ workers also came up at the meeting. Four of the workers are still considered missing after the incident. Families of Imran, Sherdad, Mohammad Shafiq and Mohammad Hanif approached the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) soon after the incident as they were unable to find the bodies at the mortuaries. The participants of the meeting, attended by assistant commissioner Mohammad Hashim, apart from the ship-breaking yard owners and representatives of the Balochistan government, pledged that the missing workers’ families would also be considered for compensation. They assured the union members that efforts would also be made to “locate them”.

The meeting was attended by Lasbela deputy commissioner Mohammad Nasrullah, environment department representative Mohammad Khan, Balochistan Development Authority’s Zulfiqar Hashmi, Hub assistant commissioner Naeem Jan and deputy director of the Balochistan labour department Fida Ahmed Shahwani. The NTUF was represented by Gadani Ship-Breaking Workers Union president Bashir Mehmoodani and Rafiq Baloch.

The NTUF suggested that a ship-breaking code, like the one in force in neighbouring India, should be enacted through legislation in Pakistan, and that “real representatives of the workers should be elected through a referendum”.

Kalat commissioner Mohammad Hashim decided to assign an identification card for the labourers working at Gadani. The card bearing a special code linked with the National Database and Registration Authority will be given to each worker at the ship-breaking yard. This card will be valid for one year. And without it, no ship-breaking company would be allowed to hire workers.

The meeting took place after another accident was reported from Yard 60 of the ship-breaking yard, where dismantling of a ship was under way. The workers the NTUF spoke with said that a container, which was not emptied of oil, caught fire during gas welding. About 100 workers were on board at the time the container caught fire. No casualties were, however, reported as the workers disembarked from the ship soon enough. It was observed at the meeting that the work at the ship-breaking yard was resumed without any prior notice.

Earlier, on Nov 1, an explosion in one of the vessels at Yard 54 killed 26 people, according to official figures, and 27, according to the labour and trade unionists.

The NTUF’s Bashir Mehmoodani maintains that only four of the 27 victims had been compensated after the incident.

A recently compiled fact-finding commission report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan held the authorities at the ship-breaking yard responsible for the incident. Accounts of the workers present at the site suggested that there were about 100 skilled and unskilled workers inside the ship, which means the death toll could be higher.

courtesy : dawn news

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