Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), a NGO, is working to improve the conditions in the Chittagong shipbreaking yards. To do this we are:
Duration: August 2003 to October 2008
A severe cyclone in 1960 drove a Greek ship onto Sitakunda Upazilla's shores, and could not be refloated. In 1964 the ship was bought and scrapped by Chittagong Steel House. The shipping industry was born.
The ship breaking industry boomed in the 1980s. Developed countries such as United Kingdom , Taiwan , and Spain wanted to get rid of the industry since it did not comply with the new environmental protection standards. Bangladeshi industrialists took the opportunity to adopt ship breaking, as it raked in much profit. Today 52% of large ships are scrapped in Bangladesh .
Today YPSA is working to improve public policies for a direct influence on 50 000 ship breaking workers. The problems of ship breaking are mostly related to the rights of the workers' rights, health and working environment. Examples include a lack of working conditions such as safety, hygiene, and protective gear. There is also a lack of appropriate policies and laws that will protect the workers from accidental deaths (e.g., one injury per day is common to the ship breaking yards), and environmental hazards (i.e., illnesses caused by exposure to toxins). In addition there are no emergency services, treatment or compensation for the workers.
YPSA is the first non-governmental organization to address the basic rights and needs of ship breaking workers. They meet the challenge with the following primary activities:
Research is an important component, as it helps gives concrete proof about the legal and real situation of all stakeholders' rights (i.e., workers, contractors, etc.). The subsequent documents have been published as a result:
Since YPSA is the first NGO to work on ship breaking issues, it has the task of sensitizing the media and other stakeholders, (e.g., local and national government, political parties, ship breaking contractors, etc) and making them responsible to the worker's rights. YPSA does this by:
To mobilize the policy makers and society about the real challenges of the ship breaking industry, YPSA:
As a result of dedication and hard work from the Advocacy and Publication unit staff, ship breaking workers becoming aware of their basic labour rights. People are more aware of the locations where the shipyards are concentrated, and at the district level government officials have become more active. Policy makers have also started to be aware about the crisis. Specifically, Bangladesh 's Department of Environment and Shipping is in the process of making a guideline for ship breaking. Owners have even agreed to build a hospital for the workers.
There are still a lot of challenges to meet, but YPSA is further expanding their good relations with international organizations like GREENPEACE. For example, an international report was published jointly with GREENPEACE. YPSA also has membership to an NGO platform on ship breaking based in Brussels .
They continue to do in depth research about workers' problems and their rights, as well as bring national awareness to the issue. There is no official policy up to date, so YPSA must meet face obstacles such as getting legal aid for workers and their families, and acquiring a draft policy. To gain more public awareness, they would like to develop photography and video documentaries, as well as a website dedicated to ship breaking.