UBA opposes barge owners’ new plan

The United Bargemen’s Association (UBA) has strongly opposed the new plan of the barge owners in the state, to make the barge workers work on a month-long shift, violating the historic settlement reached on January 11, 1985 regarding the working pattern.

Over 500 barge workers working on various barges throughout the state have raised a strong protest against the undertaking asked by some of the barge owners to work on month-long shift.
The agitated crew members of the barges had gathered at the office of the UBA in Vasco on Monday morning.
Speaking to ‘The Navhind Times’, UBA general secretary, Mr Govind Bhonsle said that the UBA through its vigilance committee members have learnt that some of the barge owners are trying to take undertaking from their barge crew that they are willing to work on a  l month-long shift.
“This is a clear cut violation of our settlement reached on January 11, 1985 regarding our working pattern,” stated Mr Bhonsle and further recalled that the barge workers had a very long struggle to achieve the historic settlement of 16-day work shift and 14-day rest.
He disclosed that due to the mining-related crises in the state and Justice Shah Commission’s report, the barge workers have been  under severe pressure and half of the barge workers have not received their salaries.
“The present negative approach of Goa Barge Owners Association which is not serious about the mining crisis, wants to take advantage of the situation and is trying to break the duty pattern which is prevailing in barge industry since the last several years,” alleged Mr Bhonsle.
The UBA has appealed to all the barge workers to be vigilant and not to  give any undertaking in any form or manner to any owner and also not to sign any blank letters.
“We advise every barge crew who is approached by the owners for these types of things to immediately report to the UBA,” said Mr Bhonsle and have further urged the crew members to maintain unity and solidarity and get ready for future struggle in order to protect their duty pattern as per the prevailing settlement.
He also further stated that any worker giving any undertaking to any barge owner will face disciplinary action for violating the settlement.
Meanwhile, a company based in the port town of Vasco has issued notices to their barge crew in accordance with Section 9A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 with an intention to effect the change and changes of service condition specified in the annexure with effect from September 16, 2012 in the condition of service applicable to workmen in respect of the matters specified in the Fourth Schedule to the Section 9A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and working pattern introduced as per clause no 12 of settlement dated January 11, 1985 and January 18, 1985. The new working pattern for the barge crew as per the barge owners will continue till May 31, 2013.
In view of withdrawal of environmental clearances to all mines in the state by the central government, the barge owners had decided to suspend the operations until further notice.
Some of the barge owners have issued notices to their crew that they would not be required in the service and therefore they should not report on their duty. The barge crew during this period would not be entitled for the wages. The date of resumption of operations will be intimated to the crew members in due course, stated the notices.
The UBA executive members on Monday met the deputy collector and sub-divisional magistrate, Mormugao, Mr Gaurish Shankhwalkar in order to apprise him of their grievances.
Meanwhile, the barge workers were agitated following the closure of office of the UBA located in Vasco. It is learnt that there is some dispute going on between a company handling iron ore consignments and the members of the UBA. The UBA in this regard has sought intervention of the deputy collector and sub-divisional magistrate, Mormugao, to provide police protection to open the office and has submitted a memorandum to him. [NT]