Bharat Mukti Morcha on 17th November 2011 extended support to the contract workers on hunger strike in front of Department of Health Services, Panjim, Goa. All these workers are mulnivasis and are suffering. The support was conveyed to the agitating workers by two member delegation from Bharat Mukti Morcha consisting its Goa State Convenor Sebastian Rodrigues and Bharat Mukti Morcha Mahila Aghadi President Maggie Silveira.
Bharat Mukti Morcha advises Goa government to regularize workers on hunger strike.
It was 10th day of their hunger strike on 17th November 2011 and demonstrations in front of the Health department main office in Panjim. Workers are protesting against betrayal of their rights by Goa’s brahmanical congress government headed by Digambar Kamat with Vishwajit Rane as his Health Minister. Workers have organized themselves as Injustice Malaria Workers Union.
These workers are working on contract for the past 16 years. 77 of them had joined health department in malaria section as daily wage workers in 1996. Later on more joined and this number went up to 124. Out of these some workers left the job and 87 remained employed. Their daily wage then was Rs.58/-. In 1998 contract system started and they were absorbed as contract workers with a monthly salary of Rs.1,500/-. In 2004 their salary was hiked to Rs.2,600/- per month. In 2006 the monthly salary was further hiked to Rs.3,900/-. In 2010 however their monthly salary was reduced to Rs. 3,600/-. In 2011 salary was hiked to Rs. 6,600/-. All this changes came about precisely because of the organized efforts by workers.
In 2008 special posts were created for these workers. All the workers were interviewed and only 11 were absorbed. The rest of the posts according to the agitating workers were sold at the rate of Rs. 6 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh each.
On 20th March 2010 these workers went on hunger strike for 17 days. Chief Minister Digambar Kamat assured to regularize the agitating workers within a month. Based on his promise hunger strike then was called off. On 5thApril 2010 there was joint meeting with Chief Minister where he assured the workers of regularization. Chief Minister failed to honor his own words and workers continued to suffer. In December 2010 Chief Minister denied his assurance.
On 27th January 2011 workers organized a rally in Panjim. After the rally health minister Rane assured the workers in presence of media and public that workers will be regularized within a 30 days. However no action was taken. Workers went on another hunger strike from 7th April to 18th April 2011. After 12 days workers were assured regularization by July 2011. This promise again was not fulfilled. Workers contract will get over at the end of November 2011. Now workers have resolved that they will call off their hunger strike only after they get their appointment letter in hand.
On 14th November 2011 rally Chief Minister Digambar Kamat assured to solve problem within 3 days. Chief Minister is playing with workers. He is only promising them verbally nothing happening practically. On 15th November 2011 DySP Dev Banaulekar came to workers with message from Chief Minister to call off the Hunger strike and move away or he will arrest all of them. Workers refused to move away and told police officer to go ahead and arrest them. Police officer did not arrest but went away. Workers continue their hunger strike. Their final decision “We will not call off hunger strike till we get our appointment letter in hand.”
Bharat Mukti morcha supports workers on hunger strike here and stands in Solidarity with them.