18 October 2012

Alang shipbreakers end strike after MP’s promise”:

The strike at Alang-Sosiya Ship-Recycling Yard in Bhavnagar was called off on Wednesday after the BJP’s Rajya Sabha member Mansukh L Mandaviya and other regional business bodies promised to ensure the Ship Recycling Industries Association’s (SRIA) demands are met.

The shipbreakers had in fact commenced upon their planned dharna at Bhavnagar’s Rupam Chowk in the morning, but later met with Mandaviya and the heads of the Saurashtra and Bhavnagar Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

“Mandaviya and the Saurashtra and Bhavnagar chambers have promised us that they will ensure our demands are met, so we have decided to call off the strike. Alang will reopen from Thursday onwards,” said Nikhil Gupta, joint-secretary of the SRIA, over phone from Bhavnagar.

The SRIA had spearheaded an agitation against last week’s booking by police of three colleagues under “culpable homicide” charges after six workers were killed by an explosion and fire on-board a beached tank-ship 11 days ago.

Shipbreakers had alleged the police was targeting them for complaining to Gandhinagar that the police were not taking their complaints about rampant night-time thefts at the yard seriously, a charge denied by police as a ploy to deviate attention from the tragedy.

For five days, business at Asia’s largest ship-recycling yard and allied businesses such as the large flea market nearby, rolling mills, furnaces and the like, had virtually halted, besides leaving tens of thousands of workers idle. The daily turnover at Alang, which the shut down disrupted, is estimated at about Rs 25-30 crore.

The tragedy on-board the tank-ship, a 163-metre-long vessel called MT Union Brave, is likely to be on the agenda of a Steel Ministry-headed Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) meeting scheduled to take place in Gandhinagar on Thursday. The IMC members IMC are also scheduled to visit Alang on Friday.

Source: Indian Express. By Adam Halliday. 18 October 2012

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