Goa lifeguards strike, government invokes ESMA

Panaji, Dec 29 (IANS) The Goa government on Tuesday invoked the ESMA Act as about 600 lifeguards posted on the state’s beaches went on an indefinite strike demanding regularisation of their services.

The imposition of the Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1988, renders illegal the indefinite strike called by the lifeguards, a government spokesperson said.

“The government has declared the lifeguarding and water safety services on the beaches and the inland water bodies under the aegis of the department of tourism as essential services,” the spokesperson said.

The indefinite strike was called by more than 600 lifeguards employed by a private beach management agency engaged by the Goa tourism ministry, according to Christopher Fonseca, general secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC).

“We had given adequate notice about the strike to the Goa government. The lifeguards are providing a critical life-saving service and need security in employment. We are only demanding regularisation of their services,” Fonseca told IANS on Tuesday.

Goa’s 100 km coastline has some spectacular beaches which are popular with tourists.

Since private beach management agencies have been recruited by the tourism authorities in the last few years, several hundred tourists have been saved from drowning.

Goa Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar said the government was in touch with the lifeguard representatives and a solution to the crisis would be found soon.

“We are keen on listening to the lifeguards and solving their issues. A resolution will be found soon,” Parulekar said.

The state is one of the top beach tourism destinations in the country.

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