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Worker unions take out procession in Pakistan demanding safety of coal miners

ANI | Updated: Mar 21, 2021 18:50 IST

Lahore [Pakistan], March 21 (ANI): After seven people were killed in a coal mine blast in Balochistan recently, several workers' unions in Pakistan took out a procession on Friday urging the government to ensure the safety of coal miners.
On March 16, at least five coal miners and two rescuers died due to suffocation after a methane gas fire broke out in the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan.
Hundreds of workers under the aegis of All Pakistan Workers Confederation (APWC) and All Pakistan Wapda Hydro Electric Workers Union (CBA) from Bakhtiar Labour Hall expressed their condolences over the tragic killings of seven coal miners, The News International reported.
The protestors demanded that Prime Minister Imran Khan and the province Chief Minister should intervene to prevent such tragic accidents in coal mines in future.
According to participants in the procession, 100 coal miners were killed in 2020 alone.

The APWC demanded implementation of the Mines Act 1923. The two labour unions called upon the PM Imran Khan and Balochistan CM to ensure the welfare of workers by providing social protection and payment of Pakistani Rs 2 million compensation to the families of the coal miners who had died, The News International reported.
It further reported that the workers held a conference earlier at Bakhtiar Labour Hall which was addressed by labour leaders. In a resolution, the workers demanded an increase in the wages of the workers employed in industries and other business by 25 per cent. The resolution also called for regularisation of jobs of contract and temporary workers and check on the prices of essential items. It demanded steps to alleviate unemployment and poverty in society.
Earlier this year, unidentified gunmen stormed a coal mine in Machh town near Quetta, pulling out ethnic Hazaras, members of Pakistan's Shia minority community, from their homes and opening fire on them.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. Following the deadly attack, protests erupted in the region with the kin of the victims refusing to bury the dead until the government met their demands.
In 2020, at least 99 coal miners and labourers were killed in 72 incidents in Balochistan, Al Jazeera reported citing government data.
Despite Balochistan being rich in minerals and natural resources, it is Pakistan's poorest province and regularly ranks at the bottom of the country's socioeconomic indicators on healthcare, education, and population welfare. (ANI)