Demand Justice and Dignity for Shipbreaking Workers!

Michael Froman, United States Trade Representative

Bangladesh’s shipbreaking workers need our help and support. Please sign this letter, which will be delivered to United States Trade Representative Michael Froman at the end of January.

To: Michael Froman, United States Trade Representative
From: [Your Name]

Dear Ambassador Froman,

For the last 30 years, giant tanker and freighter ships have been dismantled for scrap on the beaches of the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh. This is among the most dangerous jobs in the world: Fourteen young men have been killed in 2015, while scores have been seriously injured. These young workers toil 12 to 14-hour shifts, seven days a week, while earning at most 38 cents an hour. Moreover, Bangladeshi shipbreakers are denied their right to organize and lack even the most minimal safety gear.

Can you please discuss with Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina the urgent need to address the horrific conditions in the shipbreaking yards. It is time to end the tragic and needless deaths.

The shipbreaking workers must have the right to safety gear—hard hats, goggles, heavy gloves, boots and protective vests. That is not too much to ask. Above all, after 30 years, the shipbreakers in Bangladesh must be assured their fundamental, internationally recognized rights to freedom of association, to organize an independent union and to bargain collectively.

For years, the “hospital” in the Sitakunda shipbreaking area on the outskirts of Chittagong has remained locked and out of service. It is time for the hospital to open to care for the shipbreaking workers. This could save lives.

We look forward to the day when Bangladesh’s shipbreakers can work under adequately safe conditions and with their basic legal rights.