Working Conditions for Coal Miners ; From Bad to Worse

Working Conditions for Coal Miners ; From Bad to Worse
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Catherine Yu 

Pakistan & Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

The job of a coal miner in Pakistan is plagued with many challenges. Numerous safety risks, many of which result in death, can be encountered while working deep underground coal mines. Despite being aware of the risks involved with this line of work, many individuals continue to work there. Muhammad Swati is one coal miner who has shared his experience, Swati began working in this industry as a teenager and has continued to do so into his forties. As the parent of two teenage sons, he encourages them to follow in his footsteps, stating that “we do not know any other work except coal mining. Sometimes, when the mines are closed, my family has to skip meals” (Swati, 2022). 

Working conditions, while unstable to begin with, have gotten worse due to “outdated safety methods and a lack of interest by employers. The neglect has turned these mines into veritable killing fields” (Akbar Notezai, 2022). Furthermore, coal miners have lately faced security issues after armed suspects kidnapped four workers from the Habibullah Coal Company; one worker was killed, while the others were released. Vice chairperson of the Human Rights Commision of Pakistan (HRCP), Habib Tahir, has expressed general concern over the absence of safe working conditions and human rights abuses in coal mines. Tahir further stated “many elements are allegedly involved in this practice. Coal miners pay the price when the contractors or the owners do not pay the aforementioned actors in the name of security” (Tahir, 2022).  

Sources and further reading:

Akbar Notezai, M. (2022, October 17). Trapped, like canaries in a coal mine. DAWN.COM. Retrieved October 17, 2022, from  

Swati, M. (2022) DAWN.COM. Retrieved October 17, 2022, from 

Tahir, H. (2022) DAWN.COM. Retrieved October 17, 2022, from