QUETTA: The Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation (PCMLF) organised a protest demonstration on Friday against increasing incidents in coalmines, lack of safety arrangements for mineworkers and a recent incident in a mine in Duki.
A large number of mineworkers led by PCMLF members marched on different roads before gathering outside the Quetta Press Club. Carrying placards and banners inscribed with their demands the protesters chanted slogans against the government.
The president of the PCMLF and Industrial Global Union Pakistan, Sultan Mohammad Khan, while addressing the protesters said that mining was very difficult job as mineworkers had to go thousands of feet deep inside a mine for earning their livelihood. “Due to lack of safety arrangements inside mines no miner knows whether he will come out the mine or it is his last journey,” Mr Khan said.
He said that every year hundreds of mineworkers lost their lives due to lack of safety arrangements in coalmines. He said last year 120 mineworkers lost their lives in mine incidents taken place in Balochistan.
He demanded a judicial inquiry into mine incidents, OSH (occupational safety and health) for miners, ratification of ILO C-176 and proper training for coalmine workers.
PCMLF chairman Abdul Sattar, Shah Ali Bugti, Mohammad Zameen, Manzoor Baloch, Asif Shah and others also spoke on the occasion.
They said that in the last two months at least 16 miners were killed while in 2018 164 miners lost their lives and hundreds suffered injuries.
They said that owners and managers of mine companies did not care for poor workers because “for them money is more important than our lives”.
After every mine incident local people and PCMLF members come forward to rescue the victims. This reflects belated response of officials concerned to such disasters.
Through a resolution adopted during the demonstration, it was demanded that all workers should be registered with the social security and EOBI (Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Institution). “We need to launch a worldwide campaign for protection and rights of mineworkers as well as ratification of ILO C-176.”, says the resolution. It also called for a survey of coalmine working conditions in Pakistan and demanded that a proper training of mineworkers should immediately be started.
Others demands include judicial inquiry into mine incidents by a judge of the Supreme Court and immediate implementation of ILO Conventions 176 safety in mines.
The resolution demanded that those found responsible for negligence in mine incidents should be held accountable and the mines where fatal incidents took place should be immediately sealed. It called for strict implementation of Mines Act/Safety Act and Laws.
Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2020