IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
Demand health cover; Uranium Corporation of India Ltd shrugs responsibility
CONTRACT labourers working at the Banduhurang mines in East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand went on strike last month demanding health facilities and minimum wages. The protesting workers said the mine operator, Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL), had turned down their demand to give information about radiation levels in the open cast mines. Radiation levels kept secret UCIL maintained radiation levels are within limits and shrugged off responsibility for the workers saying it is a dispute to be settled by the labour contractor, Soumya Private Ltd, and the workers they hired. Over 300 workers in the mines, mostly tribal people from the nearby areas, said their wages are lower than what has been fixed under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Many of them are suffering from diseases like tuberculosis, said a non-profit spearheading the agitation. The Jharkhand Organization for Struggling Humans (JOSH) said it is looking for independent experts who could study radiation levels in the mines and the health of the workers. “But we can’t even afford to foot their travel costs; we can give the necessary manpower,” said Arjun Samad of JOSH. He said UCIL officials had turned down the request for information on radiation levels in the mines though they have installed meters. The nonprofit, Jharkhand Organization Against Radiation (JOAR) had reported birth defects in children born near Jadugoda mines located about 30 km away. But there is no similar study around Banduhurang, he said. “We have been demanding health cards for the workers that would require the company to maintain health records of workers, but in vain,” said Samad. JOSH also claimed the contractor is flouting the terms and conditions of the contract. “The agreement clearly mentions that workers will not mine below ground level which is hazardous. But the tribals are forced to dig deep,” said Samad. He said that UCIL has refused to intervene in the matter. The striking workers said they get less than Rs 100 a day, and have no health cover. They said apart from minimum Rs 120 as wages, they should get a dust allowance and uniform allowance. “We work under dangerous conditions.
Over 300 workers, mostly tribals, are demanding
health cards and minimum wage of Rs 120 a day
They should at least pay us minimum wages,” the striking workers said. “We can do nothing about the strike though we did attend the negotiation meeting between the contractors and the workers to resolve the strike,” said Atul Vajpayee, UCIL spokesperson. He said the strike had affected production but did not reveal how much. Labour officials support UCIL Between September 13 and October 1, several rounds of talks were held in the presence of the labour department; they were inconclusive. Labour department officials claimed the workers’ protest was unjustified. Assistant labour commissioner R C Mallick said the workers are getting minimum wages. “Workers are demanding minimum wage of Rs 120 fixed by the Union government while the contractor is giving wages fixed by the state government,” he said. The government stand favouring the contractor has increased resentment among the workers who have threatened hunger strike from November. A senior police official said he feared violence if the strike did not resolve soon. The five-year work contract of the labourers will expire in two months and if the striking workers are not re-employed, it would be difficult to control them, he said. JOSH is trying to bring together workers of the UCIL mines at Jadugoda, Turamdih, Bagjata and Bhatin mines to support the striking workers in Banduhurang. “The labour department may have its own reasons for supporting UCIL but we will unite all the miners to join the strike,” Samad said. ■