PDA

View Full Version : Industrial safety in Indian ship breaking



skuthorp
12-11-2007, 03:03 PM
"So far as safety aspects are concerned, no standards are observed either by workers or by plot management. Out of 361 workers, according to the survey, 14 (3.88%) workers reported accidents, 11 workers (3.05%) sustained burns and 14 workers (3.88%) reported injuries. Ten workers (2.77%) wear helmets, only one worker reported having gloves, two workers reported having shoes and three workers reported having welding glasses"

This 'industry' has been a safety and environmental disgrace for nearly 50 years and moves are just now being foreshadowed to reign the industry in. Expect another 40 years of deaths and crippling injuries before anything is done as the level of corruption involved will be massive.

http://www.csiwisepractices.org/?read=85
http://www.greenpeace.org/india/campaigns/toxics-free-future/ship-breaking

But there is some movement, a delegation visited Britain to look at operations there
http://www.thompsons.law.co.uk/ntext/delegation-improve-shipbreaking-standards-india.htm
and controversy over an asbestos riddled French aircraft carrier, the Clemenceau as was, may have pushed things to a point where the govt will be compelled to act.
http://www.terradaily.com/reports/French_Boat_Controversy_May_Doom_Indian_Shipbreaki ng.html

TomF
12-11-2007, 03:39 PM
This is shocking. Shocking in the cost to human life and safety, shocking in the cost to the environment. Shocking that given all that's possible to make an industry such as this safer, there's a reliance on poor people being paid typically poor wages in very dangerous conditions.

I expect that we'll see nothing happen, because the corporate interests involved, and the government interests involved, have very little to gain by making the practices safer .. and hence more expensive.

bob winter
12-11-2007, 03:52 PM
So we are no doubt shocked. And where do the ships they are breaking up come from? I seem to vaguely recall reading something or maybe seeing it on the idiot tube to the effect that ships, at least those originating from Canada (if there are any) and I presume from other developed countries as well were susposed to have various toxic materials removed from them before they were sent to India or wherever to be broken up. I wonder what overall percentage goes through this process?

skuthorp
12-11-2007, 03:55 PM
It can be argued that this is a feature of developing nations but we still have a problem
"*
1,600 children maimed every year in Australia
Child labour--a growth industry of the 1990s
By Phil Gardner
21 November 1998

Child labour, a worldwide scourge, has become a growth industry in Australia over the past 15 years. Children as young as 7 have become an indispensable component of major industries, particularly retail and clothing.
In the clothing industry, the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union estimates that 82,500 children under-16 are now working, usually at home alongside their parents, out of a total workforce of 329 000. The sweatshop conditions in which they and other children often work--including long hours, unsafe facilities and token wages--expose the myth that child labour is confined to the "Third World".
http://www.wsws.org/news/1998/nov1998/chil-n21.shtml

The US too:Fifty-nine years after Congress outlawed child labor in its most onerous forms, underage children still toil in fields and factories scattered across America.

"The poorest and most vulnerable among them start working before other children start kindergarten. Many earn wages below the legal minimum, often in exhausting, or even hazardous, jobs.
These children live in a world apart from most Americans, hidden from consumers and even the companies that buy the products of their labor. Yet those products can sometimes be as close as the local mall or the corner grocery.
In the past five months, The Associated Press found 165 children working illegally in 16 states, from the chili fields of New Mexico to the sweatshops of New York City.
They are children such as Angel Oliveras, 4, who stumbled between chili pepper plants as tall as his chin in New Mexico's fall harvest. Children such as Vielesee Cassell, 13, who spent the summer folding and bagging dresses in a Texas sweatshop. Children such as Bruce Lawrence, at 8 already a three-year veteran of Florida's bean fields.
The AP was able to follow the work products of 50 children to more than two dozen companies including Campbell Soup Co., Chi-Chi's Mexican restaurants, ConAgra, Costco, H.J. Heinz, Newman's Own, J.C. Penney, Pillsbury, Sears and Wal-Mart.
All the companies that responded condemned illegal child labor. Many launched investigations when told of suppliers employing underage children."
http://hometown.aol.com/munmei/labor.html

So it's hard for us to take the high ground on this.
And that's not to mention Chinese coal mining, Russian industrial practices, I suspect most of us have a dirty secret here.

TomF
12-11-2007, 03:56 PM
Yup - the ships being broken up aren't from India ... they're sent from 'round the world. I'm sure there are ships with Canadian owners there, sent because the work gets done cheap.

It's not the first time that rich folks have paid poor folks (badly) to take desperate risks on their behalf. Doesn't make it any better though.

t

skuthorp
12-11-2007, 04:02 PM
Yeah, and where d the end products of gold and diamond mines in Africa, copper in Indonesia, coal in China end up. In your and our stores.

PatCox
12-11-2007, 04:11 PM
Thats an oxymoron, like "statesmanlike Republican."

Flying Orca
12-11-2007, 04:13 PM
Agreed, this is appalling. I'm reminded of an article I read recently, profiling a young Indian garbage picker making a pitifully marginal living scouring the city dump for salvage.

It's almost a cliché to say that human potential is wasted wholesale in such places, but why does it happen? Too many people for the natural resource base has to have something to do with it. In India's case, one also has to consider the religious/caste system... I'm deeply suspicious of any "spiritual" teaching that shifts focus from the conditions of this life to "pie in the sky when you die", but I'm just thinking out loud here.

On a related note, anyone know anything about Chinese shipyards?

skuthorp
12-11-2007, 04:24 PM
From the Shipyard General Workers Federation Site
http://www.bcshipyardworkers.com/news/sept20_02.html

"MacPherson said shipyard workers in China are paid from $76 to $570 a month, compared to average wages in the BC industry of about $3500 to $4000 a month.
The Chinese shipyard industry also has far lower health and safety standards, MacPherson said, pointing to a major accident in a Shanghai shipyard in July 2001 that killed 36 workers. Independent unions are banned in China"

Keith Wilson
12-11-2007, 04:36 PM
There was an excellent article about this a few years ago in Harper's, I think, with lots of pictures. It was impressive, to say the least. The industry centers at several places in India with nice clear flat beaches. They wait for a really high tide, get the ship going as fast as possible, and just run it up on the beach as far as they can. Then a whole lot of guys start climbing over it and taking it apart with torches, hammers, and saws. The greatest danger is from falling or getting something heavy dropped on them. It's mainly because they have almost no equipment - no cranes, no lifting gear, very few power tools, no scaffolding except some improvised stuff out of bamboo, and no protective gear, of course, not even shoes and gloves. Most of the work is done completely by hand. There's a whole industry on the shore to sort the scrap and sell it for reuse.

Bruce Hooke
12-11-2007, 05:35 PM
There was an excellent article about this a few years ago in Harper's, I think, with lots of pictures.

It was in The Atlantic, or at least there was such an article in The Atlantic.

There have also been some good discussions on the matter here on the forum in years past.

Bruce Hooke
12-11-2007, 05:39 PM
It's almost a cliché to say that human potential is wasted wholesale in such places, but why does it happen? Too many people for the natural resource base has to have something to do with it.

To a significant degree, I'd say that it has to do with process rather than place. In countries that are in the process of industrializing things tend to be rather ugly and messy. Look at the mining industry in China and compare it with the mining industry looked like in the U.S. 100 years ago. Given time, I expect worker safety will improve greatly in these countries, at least assuming environmental factors don't overtake and kill the progress.

JimD
12-11-2007, 06:06 PM
Canada has environmental export laws that apply to ships being sent abroad for breaking. I recall the legal workaround is after the ships have spent their entire working life flying the Canadian flag they are reflagged as Liberian or Panamanian or whatever to circumvent our laws when they are sent to Alang or other places to be broken.


http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/bigbreak/photogallery/images/5.jpg

Flying Orca
12-11-2007, 06:14 PM
To a significant degree, I'd say that it has to do with process rather than place. In countries that are in the process of industrializing things tend to be rather ugly and messy. Look at the mining industry in China and compare it with the mining industry looked like in the U.S. 100 years ago. Given time, I expect worker safety will improve greatly in these countries, at least assuming environmental factors don't overtake and kill the progress.

Yeah, I agree on the process thing. I was thinking more about places with thousands of years of "civilization", large populations with low per capita natural resources, and a possible relation to culture-wide reduced value on human life and dignity.

As I said, musing aloud, really. But your point is well taken.

WX
12-11-2007, 06:23 PM
When you live in a country where it is not uncommon for large chunks of the population to live on the streets, routinely go without food and have no work, then anything is better than starving. I watched a segment on 60 Minutes earlier this year which showed a Russian ship heading for the breakers in this area. The workers slept on sheets of steel plating and worked barefoot in many cases. The management on the other hand lived quite well with very little thought for the workers.
Remember Bhopal?
On February 14, 1989, more than four years after clouds
of methyl isocyanate gas plowed a murderous path through the
poor neighborhoods of Bhopal, the Indian Supreme Court
approved an out-of-court settlement between the Indian
government and Union Carbide Corporation that has provoked
outrage in India, and glee in the corporate headquarters of
Union Carbide.
The settlement, in which Union Carbide agreed to pay
$470 million in exchange for release from any further legal
liability for the disaster, came as a complete surprise to
victims groups and their representatives. Litigation had been
expected to last for ten years, with the Indian government
seeking over $3 billion in compensation from Union Carbide.
The factory site has never been decontaminated but hey this is India...like Africa but with more cheap labour.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
12-11-2007, 06:27 PM
http://www.ban.org/Library/shipbreaking_oh_dear.html

Bob Cleek
12-11-2007, 07:13 PM
Capitalism at its best. Ships get broken up where that can be done at the greatest profit. It's recycling, isn't it? When the day comes that those sorry guys in India can get better jobs doing something else, I expect they will... at which point ships will be just scuttled off shore. For the moment, their misfortune is our cheaper razor blades. As horrible as their lot appears to us, would they be better off unemployed? I suppose if we really equalized the world economy, everybody would have $7,880 per year to spend, or so the experts say. Who's willing to take a cut in pay?

Bob Adams
12-11-2007, 07:23 PM
The United States has sent them there too. As a matter of fact, the Coral Sea (CV 43) was going to India after being dismantled to her hanger deck in Baltimore. Th USN stepped in and said no. She preformed a final service as her botched (and painful to watch) demolition turned a spotlight on the shameful practices of the shipbreaking industry.

skuthorp
12-11-2007, 07:28 PM
An aside here, with apologies (well, it is my own thread after all). ACB's link mentions the SS Jervis Bay.
Her predecessor had a valourous end in the Atlantic

http://www.pictureaustralia.org/apps/pictureaustralia?action=PASearch&mode=subject&complete1=true&attribute1=subject&term1=Jervis+Bay+%28steamship%29

*
Poems from Francis Kerr Young
The Ballad of Convoy HX84

On November 5th, 1940, the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer attacked Convoy HX84 in the Atlantic Ocean. Their only escort, SS Jervis Bay, was an old passenger liner that been converted into an armed merchant cruiser. To give the convoy time to disperse, Captain Edward Fogarty Fegen held the Scheer's attention by trying to ram the warship. Jervis Bay was sunk about a mile from her target and many on board were lost. Although five other ships met a similar fate, thirty vessels managed to escape. Captain Fegen received a posthumous Victoria Cross. Signalman Bill Danby, twenty-year-old son of Hamiltonian, Grandma Danby (now one hundred-and-one years old), did not survive the action.

Another heroic feat was achieved the following day: Tanker San Demetrio , carrying a cargo of aviation fuel, had been hit during the engagement and the crew hurriedly abandoned ship. Dawn found the ship afloat but still on fire. Fifteen men voted to row their lifeboat back to the burning ship where they managed to extinguish the blaze.

Chief Engineer Charles Pollard got the ship under way. Although the chart room had been destroyed in the flames, Second Officer Hawkins used a school atlas to help him navigate the vessel. They anchored in Rothesay Bay nearly two weeks later (November 16th), adding her vital cargo to the Blitz defences.



THE BALLAD OF CONVOY HX84
(for Grandma Danby)

From Halifax one cold, dark night,
some ships got under way.
Group HX84's sad plight
is quite a tale they say:
when merchant ships met Nazi might,
and it, the Jervis Bay.

Gone were the days of rich resorts,
and folk who sought the sun,
she'd plied the planet's pleasure ports,
her time was almost done.
The navy sadly lacked escorts
when war had just begun.

They fitted her with six-inch guns,
one fore, one aft, they say,
they were out-gunned these mothers' sons
who died with Jervis Bay.

The War had waged for but a year
on that November day,
a host of ships felt naked fear
on cold, cold seas of grey:
In wait, here lay Admiral Scheer
to fight the Jervis Bay.

This battleship had little fear
when stalking easy prey,
convoys were flocks of sheep to Scheer,
to slaughter, sink, and slay;
till one old ewe bleats, "Fegen's here -
aboard the Jervis Bay!"

"Convoy dispersing" signals say,
they flee like hell from here,
as Jervis Bay steams through the fray
to ram the mighty Scheer.
Poor Jervis Bay has gone below
as though she'd never been,
she's gone to where good sailors go
for berths in Fiddler's Green.*

*Good sailors go to Fiddler's Green when they die, bad sailors go to Davy Jones' Locker.

Ships are foundering here and there,
a few ablaze I think,
men are drowning everywhere
in bunker C's foul stink.

That frightful cry: "Abandon ship!"
loud klaxons vent their spleen,
and ships begin their final trip
below, to Fiddler's Green.

The tanker San Demetrio,
becomes a ship of fire:
"It looks as though she's gonna blow!
The situation's dire."
Into the boats the crew all go,
or else she'll be their pyre!

Dawn came cold on a wintry sea,
the ship was still aflame:
A blazing ship? A cold, cold sea?
The choice is much the same.

So back on board climbed fifteen men
who bravely doused the blaze,
and brought her safely home again,
it took them many days:
And all because of fine seamen
as brave as Jervis Bay's.


This poem won second prize in the 1996 Grugin Award in West Virginia Poets Society

Dan McCosh
12-11-2007, 07:34 PM
Capitalism at its best. Ships get broken up where that can be done at the greatest profit. It's recycling, isn't it? When the day comes that those sorry guys in India can get better jobs doing something else, I expect they will... at which point ships will be just scuttled off shore. For the moment, their misfortune is our cheaper razor blades. As horrible as their lot appears to us, would they be better off unemployed? I suppose if we really equalized the world economy, everybody would have $7,880 per year to spend, or so the experts say. Who's willing to take a cut in pay?


Somehow, maiming and killing the work force doesn't seem a logical way to run a profitable business.

skuthorp
12-11-2007, 07:36 PM
Depends on the cost/benifit analysis Dan. And maybe risk management.

Bob Cleek
12-11-2007, 07:36 PM
You wouldn't think so, but that is so only in "civilized" countries... and they can afford to value their own lives more highly because they value others' less.

WX
12-11-2007, 07:44 PM
I was under the impression that HX and SC convoy ships were only allowed a gun on the After deck, as a gun on the Foredeck was considered an offensive weapon. I have just read two books on Atlantic convoys and both mention this fact.
Maybe the powers that be allowed Fore and Aft guns after 1940.
HX ships were generally faster oil burners whereas SC ships were for the most part old coal burners, often pre dating 1914.
Both suffered horriffic casualties as none of them could outrun a U boat which could do 18 knots on the surface.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
12-11-2007, 07:48 PM
The "Jervis Bay" was an "armed merchant cruiser" - RNR manned - actually a convoy escort. That's why she turned towards, and engaged, the pocket battleship - to give the rest of the ships a chance to scatter and try to get away.

WX
12-11-2007, 07:58 PM
The "Jervis Bay" was an "armed merchant cruiser" - RNR manned

My mistake ACB, I should have picked that up.

George Ray
12-11-2007, 08:24 PM
http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/image_full/international/photosvideos/photos/shipbreaking-yards-in-banglade.jpg
http://arkiblog.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2006/08/13.jpg
http://arkiblog.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2006/08/10.jpg
http://www.stephenmurphy.co.uk/images/shipbreaking/image19.jpg
http://www.stephenmurphy.co.uk/images/shipbreaking/image21.jpg

Syed
12-11-2007, 08:25 PM
Agreed, this is appalling. I'm reminded of an article I read recently, profiling a young Indian garbage picker making a pitifully marginal living scouring the city dump for salvage.


The poor countries are doing almost same thing, internationally. In private sector the new industries are established from the scrapped plants of the rich countries and the phenomenon is not limited to the industry. :) Not bad recycling.

LeeG
12-11-2007, 08:35 PM
It was in The Atlantic, or at least there was such an article in The Atlantic.

There have also been some good discussions on the matter here on the forum in years past.


written by William Langschwiese(sp?) I think, he also wrote an excellent short book about the excavation of the WTC pit. His writing style is engaging.

skuthorp
12-11-2007, 08:42 PM
Yes Syed, I remember reading somewhere that Mahendra motors was producing at one time Morris Majors (early 1960's) under their brand from a second hand plant and moulds etc purchased in England. Popular as taxi's I think.

Syed
12-11-2007, 09:02 PM
skuthorp,
I think you are talking about this;

"The Hindustan Ambassador is a model of car manufactured by Hindustan Motors of India. It has been in production since 1957 and is based on the Morris Oxford model first made by the Morris Motor Company at Cowley, Oxford in the United Kingdom."

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/af/HindustanAmbassador_gobeirne.jpg/200px-HindustanAmbassador_gobeirne.jpg (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:HindustanAmbassador_gobeirne.jpg)

carioca1232001
12-12-2007, 04:31 PM
The "Jervis Bay" was an "armed merchant cruiser" - RNR manned - actually a convoy escort. That's why she turned towards, and engaged, the pocket battleship - to give the rest of the ships a chance to scatter and try to get away.

In Brazil when a herd of cattle is about to cross a river/stream infested with piranhas, an older member of the herd is set aside and repeatedly wounded with a knife in several places.

The bleeding animal is sent ahead to cross the river and is immediately set upon by the piranhas, wherein the rest are able to traverse unscathed.

The expression 'Boi de piranha' derives from this situation and the role of the 'armed merchant cruiser' seems to be somewhat analogous to it.

carioca1232001
12-12-2007, 04:50 PM
There was a documentary on the Indian ship-breaking business a few months back... don't remember if it was on PBS or Discovery.... in any event, working conditions were truly pitiful.

Why just the ship-breaking business ?

Working conditions for civil construction workers are not all that better than those of shipbreakers.

Has anyone of you ever witnessed a human conveyor belt in action, formed exclusively of young women hanging out in the scaffolding of a building under construction, passing bowls of concrete over their heads, from ground level to whatever floor it is needed ?

paladin
12-12-2007, 05:35 PM
I have witnessed the shipbreaking business first hand in Pakistan, having gone through a few of the vessels immediately prior to be accosted by several dozens of persons intent on reducing it to rubble by nightfall. For a fact.....the supervisor was paid $100, and each of the men/women involved in shipbreaking was paid a sum of about $20 to sit back for 2-3 hours and then work later just so that a 2-3 hour tour could be made before anyone came aboard......I usually walked away with 100-500 pounds of Junk in that period of time.....;)

carioca1232001
12-12-2007, 06:26 PM
That must have been on the coast of Baluchistan Province, Paladin, where a shipbeaking facility was in operation a decade or so ago in Pakistan. Not sure if it is still in business, though.

Just curious how you may have ventured out to the shipbreaking site ..... by chopper from across the pond in Muscat or out of the city of Karachi ?

The coastal road around a decade ago was nothing more than a dirt track, but nowadays it is a two-lane highway, financed with Chinese money, who are also constructing the deep sea port in the tiny coastal town of Gwadur, nearly on the frontier with Iran (Gwadar was for a short time Aguada, from when the Portuguese also ruled the roost over Hormuz).

JimD
12-12-2007, 07:35 PM
Who's willing to take a cut in pay?

I am. Provided my pay cut really did mean a pay raise for those poor bastids doing the work over there. And it probably wouldn't. Capitalism at its best and all that.

paladin
12-12-2007, 08:22 PM
Carioca....
trip was usually made in a government furnished vehicle....3/4 ton weapons carrier/SUV type or similar with military driver...and yes.....very little pavement.......

Lew Barrett
12-12-2007, 10:23 PM
Someone on this forum must have recommended reading "The Outlaw Sea" by William Langewiesche before. It describes many of the strange mechanics of vessel ownership in the modern world. In addition to this, and much more, including sections on piracy and crime at sea, Langewiesche writes a painfully detailed description of ship breaking off the Indian coast.

Syed
12-13-2007, 12:50 AM
As carioca and paladin are talking about Gadani ship breaking industry near Karachi, I am sharing this picture here;


"This photo is courtesy of Mr. Raja Islam (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rajaislam/). The place is Gadani’s Ship Breaking area some 40 km west of Karachi. Ships of all sizes and shapes are broken down into small pieces of scrap here using mostly the hand tools. It is a work of sheer labor. When I first saw this picture in Raja Islam’s collection it was titled as ‘Egyptian slaves at work’. Breaking a ship into small pieces by using simple hand tools is probably very close in effort to building an Egyptian pyramid."
http://pakistaniat.com/images/loads.jpg

carioca1232001
12-13-2007, 04:04 AM
Seems, Syed, that the shipbreakers are rather closer to Karachi than what I had imagined, based on a National Geographic article from a decade ago !

Probably not far from Somiani, the rocket-test facility in the 60´s, a most picturesque place we were told, as a classmate´s father - regarded as Pakistan´s top scientist in those times - ran it, amongst other scientific pursuits.

I enjoyed browsing through those Karachi photos, many thanks. As for the Karachi I knew, here it is:

http://www.urckarachi.org/Karachi%20in%201960s.htm

Syed
12-13-2007, 05:36 AM
You are right carioca, the ship breakers are close to Karachi though the place is in the Lasbela district of Baluchistan province. Even the Sonmiani beach is in Lasbela.
I wonder if you had some connection with the Goans of Karachi, I had some friends from that community back in seventies, when I studied there.

carioca1232001
12-13-2007, 06:13 AM
Syed, my paternal great-grandfather, was probably Karachi´s first Goan immigrant in the 1860´s, at a time when, say, M A Jinnah´s family had also moved over, with the boom in business brought on by Sind being annexed to the Raj.

PM me should you wish to locate your Karachi Goan friends from the 70´s.

Syed
12-13-2007, 06:21 AM
Thank you, carioca, now I am clear about how a gentleman from Brazil was brought up in Karachi.
Sure, we shall talk about 'the old friends'.

carioca1232001
12-13-2007, 06:31 AM
You will not believe this........some 18 years ago, a Brazilian kept on eyeing me as he saw me walking towards a Padaria (baker´s shop) in Ipanema.... a most uncomfortable sensation.......when he got talking once we were both in the bakery.

It turns out he was educated in the same school as I was (partially), albeit he was some three years junior to myself and I described to him the model, make and colour of the embassy car that dropped him off every morning! He was aghast !

Said he : Why would anyone bear in mind the cheap car ? It wasn´t a Mercedes or a fancy N. American one ?

'Well', I retorted, 'me and my mates thought your sisters - off to the girls-only school - as an unusually pretty bunch' ! :D

Syed
12-13-2007, 06:46 AM
:):):)