The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) has submitted a detailed memorandum to Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant along with the members of the Legislative Assembly demanding immediate resumption of mining operations in the state in a scientific and sustainable manner.
The Union has also appealed to the state government to allocate funds to pay Rs 15,000 per month to all mining workers who stand to lose their jobs in the wake of a recent government order.
On May 4, the Goa government had issued notices to 88 mining leaseholders to remove their machinery and equipment from the iron ore mines. It’s noteworthy that the leases granted to these companies were cancelled after the Supreme Court banned mining activities in Goa in 2018.
In its memorandum, the AITUC has urged the state government to take into consideration the plight of scores of mining workers who are staring at unemployment. According to the trade union, many erstwhile mining lease-holding companies have already told workers that their services would be terminated due to the recent government order.
“If the mining workers face termination/retrenchment, the question of their unemployment, livelihood and existence of their families are serious matters which the state government should be concerned about.”
Citing the July 2021 statement of the Chief Minister during the last Assembly session, AITUC said that even though Sawant had announced that the iron ore mining activities would soon be started by state-owned mining corporations, there has been no development in the matter till date.
In the event of fresh auctions, AITUC has asked the government to ensure that the new leaseholders allow the existing mining workers to continue with their employment at their last drawn salaries and services.
With the monsoon around the corner, several empty mining pits will be filled with rainwater, and rigorous efforts will be required to pump out the water. Hence, the trade union has suggested that the existing facilities available with erstwhile mining leaseholders be utilised to avoid any kind of natural calamity or a flood-like situation in Goa villages.
The AITUC has further asked the government to come up with a Retrenched Mining Workers’ Scheme which is in line with the Goa Labour Welfare Board Scheme, for the benefit of retrenched mining workers and those who lost their jobs after the 2018 order.
The trade union has said that state-owned mining corporations should carry out all mining operations, including exports, with the existing pool of skilled and experienced staff and workers, and engage all stakeholders such as truckers, barge operators and others with the available infrastructure to ensure that mining operations pick up quickly, providing the much-needed relief to the mining dependents in Goa.
To discuss the matter in detail with the government, AITUC has sought an appointment with the Chief Minister in the coming days.