Platform News – Problems of shipbreaking presented at the 2018 Vicino/Lontano Festival

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform is grateful to have participated in the 2018 Vicino/Lontano Festival, which was held from 10 May to 13 May in Udine, Italy.


The Vicino/Lontano Festival has, since its very beginning, been closely linked to the figure of journalist and writer Tiziano Terzani, to whose memory the Festival’s annual literary prize is dedicated. It encompasses a broad range of initiatives and events, including debates, discussion forums, seminars, lectures, exhibitions, performances and screenings. Scholars, journalists, writers and artists of international renown gather together to analyze the economic, social, cultural, and geopolitical trends currently impacting our globalized world, and, in the process, attempt to reach a better understanding of the forces and mechanisms driving global change and how these are likely to shape future realities.


The photo exhibition ‘With Bare Hands – The human and environmental costs of shipbreaking’, an extract from a web documentary done by Tomaso Clavarino and Isacco Chiaf, was the Platform’s entry to this year’s festival edition that focused on global inequalities. In 2016, Clavarino, journalist and photographer, and Chiaf, video maker and graphic designer, travelled to Bangladesh and India, where dirty and dangerous scrapping is conducted on the tidal beaches of Chittagong and Alang. With texts, infographics, videos, photo-essays, interviews and maps, they have been able to show how shipbreaking activities are contributing to the destruction of the ecosystem and negatively affecting the lives of thousands of people.



The official inauguration of the exhibition took place on 11 May at the gallery MAKE. With the presence of Vicino/Lontano’s vice-president and the City Councillor responsible for culture, Clavarino and Nicola Mulinaris, the Platform’s communication officer, introduced the audience to the topic of shipbreaking, highlighting its international dimension and negative impacts.


What impressed me the most during the days spent in Bangladesh and India, besides the extremely inhuman working conditions and evident pollution, was the difficulty to access this industry. That journalists and photographers are not welcome was clearly communicated. We still managed to penetrate this extremely closed industry – and the devastating stories we documented cannot be ignored”, said Tomaso Clavarino.


In the last two years, With Bare Hands, which was funded by the European Journalism Centre, has been published in several international media outlets [1]. The Platform, with the support of its member organisation Legambiente and the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, presented the project to the public in the form of photo exhibition also at the European Parliament in Brussels (June 2017) and at RED La Feltrinelli in Rome (January 2018).




[1] E.g. Al Jazeera, El Pais, Corriere della Sera.


Press Release – South Asian trade unions assert their rights

In Chittagong, Bangladesh, on the International Labour Day of 1 May, the Platform member organisation YPSA brought together shipbreaking workers for a demonstration to claim their right for a healthy and safe workplace.


OSHE, another Platform member, and YPSA also organised demonstrations on the World Day for Health at Work, on 28 April. Concerns related to especially the vulnerability of young workers in hazardous occupations such as shipbreaking were raised, and the call for safe working conditions was joined by prominent trade union representatives.


These events have taken place at a time when the shipbreaking industry has seen a high number of accidents occurring in the yards in the first quarter of this year, with already 10 workers who have lost their lives.


In Pakistan, the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), member of IndustriAll, has been officially recognised as a trade union in the re-rolling mills. The mills in Gadani receive the scrap metal that originates from, amongst other, the shipbreaking activities and employ about 15,000 workers. Whilst NTUF has faced difficulties in being recognised as a trade union at the shipbreaking yards in Gadani, its acceptance as a collective bargaining association at the re-rolling mills will greatly benefit the workers who do not have a written contract and work in precarious conditions.


Official recognition of the re-rolling mill workers’ union is an important achievement and will pave the way for the union being able to improve working conditions, health and safety, social security and wages”, said Nasir Mansoor from NTUF.