No work, take leave: Mining companies to employees

Seven weeks after mining operations came to a grinding halt in Goa, mining companies are finding new responsibilities for their staff.

Employees at the officer level in some companies have been directed to exhaust their leave and there have been hints of relocation to other branches. Others are being made to carry out corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities that range from cleaning temples and religious structures to teaching students from economically backward families.

Mining operations were stopped after the Shah Commission report on illegal mining was tabled in Parliament on September 6. This is the first time in six decades that the industry has seen its operations halted and led to some mining companies suggesting that employees exhaust their leave.

"Officials working in our mines have been verbally directed to go on leave," employees working at a mine in Bicholim taluka told TOI. The mine workers were worried about their future as only three officers were now maintaining the mine.

Sources said some mining company managements were deliberating during the last two weeks on how to deal with the situation and reduce liability. Companies that run mining mines operating outside the state and country have hinted to staff that they may be transferred outside the state.

"We have been instructed verbally that we may have to join other branches but there is no official confirmation," sources working in one of the top three mining companies operating in the state told TOI.

Sources said speculation among senior technical and engineering staff is that managements would announce the option of transfers soon. Some companies have mines operating outside India and the buzz in a big corporate house is that senior staff may be asked to join the group's subsidiary companies in India and abroad.

Some mining companies have already started the process of giving 'breaks' or laying off contract workers at the lower level.

Rivona Truck Owners Association member Remy Fernandes said, "Villagers from Rivona and Colomba employed in mines as labourers, sweepers, cleaners and supervisors have been told they are being given a break and that they will be laid off by December if mining does not restart." [TOI]