KARACHI -  A judicial commission under a high court judge should be constituted to investigate into the deadly oil tanker blast involving more than 25 deaths at Gadani shipbreaking yard.

The ship owner, contractors and heads of government watchdog institutions should be arrested and trailed for their negligence towards the labourers lives and environment, demanded workers during a demonstration on Sunday.

Addressing a rally carried out from Regal Chowk to Karachi Press Club (KPC), the shipbreaking workers urged the government and their employers to compensate each of their dead comrade with Rs3m as a financial support to their families and give Rs500,000 to each of the injured.

The rally was organised by National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) in collaboration with Shipbreaking Workers Union-registered (SWU). NTUF president Rafiq and SWU president Bashir Mehmoodani led the demonstration. A large number of shipbreaking workers, relatives of those missing, home-based women workers as well as heirs of the victims of Baldia factory fire and the victims themselves attended the event.

They also stressed on the authorities to expedite the search operation for the workers who have been missing since the incident and implement labour laws and ensure health and safety of the workers at their workplaces.

The labour leaders speaking on the occasion said that around 850 workers have lost their lives and more than 1000 have lost their limbs or have suffered serious injuries in accidents at the Gadani shipbreaking yard since 1968.

It is perhaps the worst workplace in the world or especially in Pakistan where casualties in such a large number have occurred during work, and the government watchdogs, such as labour department, social security institution, environment protection agency, EOBI, police, local administration, decommissioned ship owners and contractors were responsible for these deaths and injuries.

They said that the owners and contractors in collusion with the watchdogs have imposed a jungle-law at the shipbreaking yard by violating the constitutional and legal rights of the labourers and overlooking the international treaties, conventions and agreements on the subject.

Mentioning the examples of India and Turkey, they said that there have been made some special laws for health and safety and their implementation have been ensured by the governments due to which the casualties ratio in accidents have considerably declined.

They said that the Pakistan takes proud in calling itself a nuclear state but on the darker side its institutions are not even capable of fighting a fire to save lives; the ship-breaking industry gives billion rupees in taxes but gets nothing in return.

There are approximately 12000 workers employed at Gadani ship-breaking yard at the moment Stub almost all of them were deprived of their rights to social security, EOBI and other schemes because the owners and contractors in collusion of government departments have made it nearly impossible for the workers to access these benefits, they added.

They deplored that despite such a big disaster no labour minister either from the Balochistan government or from the federal government bothered to visit the ill-fated site though the Balochistan chief minister Sanaullah Zehri came to Gadani hardly for 10 minutes visit.

The participants of the rally thanked the Edhi Foundation head Faisal Edhi for his and volunteers’ untiring efforts in rescuing the workers from the burning ship, shifting the dead and injured to the hospital and arranging medical and other care for them.