As a follow-up to a harrowing video shown to delegates of the 38th IAM Grand Lodge Convention in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, last month about the life-threatening working conditions of shipbreaking workers in India, the newly-formed union federation, IndustriALL, has some promising news to report.
After three years of fighting, the widows and families of six deceased shipbreaking workers in Alang, India, will receive compensation in the form of a monthly pension. The move also further strengthens the Alang Sosiya Ship Recycling and General Workers’ Association’s (ASSRGWA), role in the shipbreaking yards.
According a recent article in the IndustriALL newsletter, the news of familial compensation for workers killed on the job is a first in Alang history.
“When the shipbreaking organizing project started in 2003, led by one of IndustriALL’s founding organizations (the International Metalworkers’ Federation), it was of common knowledge among the locals that whenever a shipbreaking worker was killed on the job the body was unceremoniously tossed into the sea. As most of the workers are undocumented migrant workers, no one ever bothered to ask any questions, search for the families or make any demand against the employer. That was before the workers had a union,” reads the article.
Not only has the union succeeded in securing compensation for the families of the deceased, it has also secured social security benefits; achieved recognition of shipbreaking as a scheduled industry, which allows workers to claim minimum wage; provided access to drinking water in the yards; and introduced important safety measures such as personal protective equipment.
The Alang shipbreaking workers union now has approximately 10,000 members. Over 3,500 workers have also been unionized in Mumbai.
For more on the Alang shipbreaking victory, click here.