Balochistan: Miners died in Dukki and Kohlu coal mines at the start of the new year. No health and safety measures.

Image Credit: REUTERS/Sara Farid

The start of the new year has brought new horrors for the mine workers of Balochistan. Two miners were killed in the Chamalang area in district Dukki due to an avalanche while two miners died in the Nauhasham area of Kohlu due to a mine collapse. According to police reports, all bodies were recovered and shifted to the local hospitals.

Balochistan is a mine rich provice. There are hundreds of mines spread all over Balochistan and deaths due to gas in mines, avalanches, collapse and blasts have become a norm.

According to Pakistan Central Mines Labor Federation, there are around 200 deaths on average each year in mines across the country.

Worker representatives under the Red Worker Front Platform are demanding legal actions against all related departments and mining businessmen in Balochistan against the miners’ deaths. There are hardly any proper functioning workers unions in the mining sector in Balochistan. Bosses installed yellow unions and their federations who are running in a few mines and are mouthpieces of bosses and they rubber stamp on all anti-workers measures by the company executives.

There are dozens of internationally funded NGO representatives who pretend to represent the poor workers and shed crocodile tears of solidarity, whilst filling up their pockets with monies from foreign donations. Corruption runs through bureaucracy, security agencies, and up to politicians in Islamabad. In all such so-called “accidents”, an amount of Rs 200,000 (833 GBP ) is paid to the dead workers’ families and the matter is always swept under the carpet without any serious safety improvements in mines.

The majority of workers in the Balochistan province’s mines are from Afghanistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, usually on poverty wages. Recently, unemployed and poverty-crushed youth of Balochistan has also started to work in the mines. There are no safety measures, no labor laws, and no scientifically planned coal extraction. 

PTUS campaign demands that a case must be filed against coal mine owners, contractors, and the corrupt bureaucracy for this latest murder, while the families of the dead workers must be compensated. All safety measures and labor laws must be implemented and dangerous mines shut down. A true representative elected committee of mine workers must be formed and tasked to examine all the mines of the province to monitor these matters so that the daily murder of mineworkers can be stopped.