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Co-workers of Babul Killed

September, 21 2009 Share

An Interview with Workers of Lucky Shipyard
August 2009

Interviewer: In which yard are you working?

Worker 1: I work for 'Lucky'.

Interviewer: What's your job?

Worker 1: Cutterman.

Interviewer:  How long have you been working at the shipyard?

Worker 1: About 5-7 years.

Interviewer: 5-7 years?

Worker 1: Yes.

Interviewer: In which shift are you working?

Worker 1: Night shift.

Interviewer: What's your salary, brother?

Worker 1:  Salary? My salary is 150 taka.

Interviewer: 150 taka for 8 hours work? [$2.18 or 27 cents an hour]

Worker 1: Yes.

Interviewer: When do you get your salary?

Worker 1: Our salary, we are supposed to get it on the 5th and 20th of the following month. The salary is paid every two weeks.

Interviewer: When do you go to work?

Worker 1: At 8:00 p.m. That is, we have to arrive at 7:30 p.m. at the yard, and we have to work 'till 8:30 a.m.

Interviewer: What about dinner?

Worker 2 (close Mr. Worker 1): At around 2:00 a.m., the company provides a biscuit, which costs 3 taka, and workers are given some time off to eat anything with our own money. Dinner break is at 10.00 p.m. Another break is at 6:00 a.m. to eat something with our own money. The company only gives one break at 2:00 a.m. for a biscuit which is 3 taka [4 cents] per piece. Also, tea is served, which has no taste at all.  Almost no one can drink it.

Interviewer: If you get sick, the company doesn't provide you any leave?

Worker 2: No, no, if you can't work, you will not be paid.

Interviewer: How much is your salary?

Worker 2: As I am a helper, I am paid 125 taka [$1.82] for 8 hours duty.

Interviewer: What time do you enter at your workplace?

Worker 1: At 8:00 p.m.

Interviewer: And at morning?

Workers: At 8:00 a.m.

Interviewer: During your work, did anything happen that was very frightening?

Worker 1: Yes, it happens very often. Workers even die in front of our eyes.

Worker 2:  For example, just three months or maybe three and half months ago, one worker died.

Worker 1: His name was Babul.

Interviewer: Where did he come from?

Workers: Hasnabad.

Interviewer: How did he die?

Worker 1: An iron plate fell on him.

Interviewer: Okay, did the worker die in front of you?

Workers: Yes, in front of us. """"""""""

Interviewer: How did he die, could you please explain?

Worker 1: Okay, like one parda"

Interviewer: What is parda?

Worker 1: Parda means the iron plate (load), parts of ships. This iron plate was being cut on its upper side. Suddenly, the load slid down and fell on him and he died.

Worker 2: The plate fell on him and the load crushed him.

Worker 1: The plate was supposed to be secured so it could be cut from any side. But the load suddenly fell on him. Afterwards, the load was pulled aside with a machine to get the man out. We all helped to get him out.

Interviewer: When did the incident happen?

Workers: It was 3 or 3 1/2 months ago.

Interviewer: 3 months or 3 and a half months?

Worker 1: Yes. On 19th April at around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.

Another worker: To get the dead body out from the load, it took from 12 midnight to 1:00 am.

Interviewer: To get the dead body out?

Workers: Yes. """"It was not possible to do without the machine. We all worked together with the machine. After attaching it with a cable, we were able to take the load off from the man.

Interviewer: How was the dead body released from the load?

Worker 1: The metal plate was pulled off with the machine, and we saw that his appearance was changed. He was just smashed by the load. Our work is so risky that we are always facing a deadly situation.

Interviewer: When anyone dies, do you stop your work?

Workers: Yes, we stop our work.

Interviewer: Don't you protest?

Worker 2: The owner doesn't allow it. If anyone protests, they will be thrown out.

Interviewer: What happens if workers protest?

Worker 2:  Workers would be fired if we protested. Workers will not be allowed then to stay in the yard.

Interviewer:  The worker who died in your yard, what was his name?

Worker: Babul.

Interviewer: Did he get the compensation?

Worker 1:  Yes. A very small amount, a very insignificant amount. On the other hand, money is nothing to a life. If someone loses his life, what will he do with the money? Is it possible to bring the man alive again if money is given?

Interviewer: What do you think about your working environment here?

Worker 3: The environment is worse than the prison. We work here only to buy food to survive. Otherwise, it is not a workplace for a human being. I have no words to explain. My colleague may tell you something, but I can't explain.

Interviewer: Brother, what's your name?

Worker 3: My name is #####.

Interviewer: In which yard are you working?

Worker 3:  Lucky yard.

Interviewer: For how long?

Worker 3: For 3 or 4 years.

Interviewer: How did the worker die?

Worker 3: A huge iron plate fell on him.

Interviewer: Did he die in front of you?

Worker 3: Yes, he died in front of us.

Interviewer: What was his position?

Worker 3: He was cutter.

Interviewer: Cutter man?

Worker 3: Yes.

Interviewer: When he died in front of you, what did you do then?

Worker 3: We stopped our work and used a machine to pull the iron plate off him. He was disfigured from the pressure of the load. This iron plate was huge.  It took some of time to work with it, and we had to work till past midnight. Afterwards, the dead body was taken for post mortem. A lump sum of money was given to his parents.

10:10 Interviewer: How do you feel working here?

Worker 3: What can I say?  We are fighting with death always. This is not work. This is a place of punishment and death.

Interviewer: Brother, what's your name?

Worker 4: #####  

Interviewer: Which yard are you working for?

Worker 4: Lucky yard.

Interviewer: For how long?

Worker 4: Around for last 7 or 8 years.

Interviewer: How much are you paid?

Worker 4: In 8 hours, I get 145 taka. [$2.11 or 26 cents an hour]

Interviewer: What is the payment syste m here? Are you paid by month or by week?

Worker 4: The salary is paid on the 5th and 20th. Payment is given every 15 days.

Interviewer: How much do you get in 15 days?

Worker 4:  Between 2,400 and 2,500 taka. [$34.88 to $36.34; $17.45 to $18.17 per week]

Interviewer: Are you happy with this salary?

Worker 4: No, this is a very poor amount. We have to do this work to survive.

Interviewer: Are you able to work 30 days a month?

Worker 4: No, it's not possible.

Interviewer: Why?

Worker 4: I cannot do this, because it's very painful work. Our hands and legs are being hurt—burned by fire. We get headaches.  It's a very hard job.

Interviewer: Have you every faced any dangerous situation while working? Or, did you see any danger?

Worker 4: Yes, I have seen it.

Interviewer: How was that, please explain.

Worker 4: I have seen many workers' legs and hands broken. Many workers died.

Interviewer: As per your knowledge, do you know anyone who died?

Worker 4: Yes, of course, I know workers who died.

Interviewer: Please explain what happened?

Worker 4: A huge iron plate was raised up, the upper portion of it was cut, and afterwards the lower portion was being cut. While it was being cut on its lower portion, the whole plate fell on a worker. Then all the workers, 40-50 workers, all helped to turn over the plate with machine. Then we took the man out from that place and took him to the office. The worker actually died on the spot. He just died there. We put him in the office and we all were ordered to get out from there.

Interviewer: What do you mean by you all were to get out?

Worker 4: We were asked to get out from the office.

Interviewer: Meaning, you all were asked to leave the yard?

Worker 4: Yes. There was no work for that day after this incident.

Interviewer: So, what happened afterwards?

Worker 4: Then it was dawn. We saw that the dead body was going out through the gate. After that we did not see the dead body. ""

Interviewer:  Have you had other deadly experiences?

Worker 4: A man was killed by a huge load in front of my eyes.  I cannot get this scene from my mind.

Interviewer: So, did it upset you and hamper your work?

Worker 4: Yes, we don't feel any interest to work. Now, we continue work because of our poverty and to buy food.

Interviewer:  How many years ago did you come here?

Worker 4: It would be around 8 or 10 years.

Interviewer: Did you work in this shipyard during this whole time?

Worker 4: Yes. I worked for this shipyard for last 8 or 10 years.

Interviewer:  Have you experienced many other dangerous incidents?  

Worker 4: Yes, many dangerous incidents happened in front of me.

Interviewer: So, why do you work here after experiencing these incidents?

Worker 4: Because we are poor people. We have to get food to survive. We cannot do anything except this work. Now, we are obliged to do this work.

Interviewer: Is it possible for you to send some money to your home (village)?

Worker 4: We send money every month, but very small amounts, maybe around 2,000 to 2,500 taka [$29.07-$36.04] is being sent to home somehow. After spending for house rent, food and other costs, I try to send 2,000 taka to my home. It is very big amount for me.

Interviewer: The amount of salary you are paid, are you happy with it?

Worker 4: No, we cannot manage anything with this salary. Even, a rickshaw puller can earn 400 to 500 taka [$5.81 - $7.27] per day.  How can we manage with only 150 taka [$2.18]?  Is it possible to run our family, brother?  No way!  Abroad, those involved with this ship breaking work can earn huge amount of money. And here we work 12 hours for only 150 taka.  And sometimes we do not get our salary on time. We are doing it just to buy food to survive.