AITUC-affiliated union to hold a meeting at the fishing harbour on April 18

Visakhapatnam Fishing Harbour Workers’ Union (VFHWU) has sought compensation from the government for the workers rendered jobless due to 47-day fishing ban which began on Monday at the rate of Rs.150 per day.

To press for the demand, the AITUC-affiliated union will hold a meeting here at the fishing harbour on April 18. The union has invited Minister for Infrastructure and Investment Ganta Srinivasa Rao, AITUC State secretary G. Obulesu, Additional Joint Commissioner of Labour S. Lakshminarayana and Joint Director of Fisheries P. Koteswara Rao.

Union president Koda Vajram, general secretary J.D. Naidu, vice-president Barri Appanna and joint secretary Ruthi Satya Rao told reporters on Monday that Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa and Puducherry were already paying compensation to the fishermen lieu of loss suffered by them during the annual ban period. The ban, which is being enforced on different dates in the east and west coast once a year, is aimed at allowing the fish species to grow. Mr. Naidu said an estimated 8,000 boat workers make a living by working in 740 mechanised boats and 40 mini vessels operated from Visakhapatnam. Though there is a GO by the Centre issued 37 years ago to provide sustenance allowance to fishermen during the period, it was being implemented only in a few States.

He regretted that 35-kg rice per worker announced by the State government was given in December, 2012, though the annual ban ended on May 31, 2012. Stating that the fish workers get on an average Rs.300 a day whenever the boats go on voyage, he said most of them were not extended risk coverage by the owners. He said five fishermen died during their voyage last year, but compensation of any kind was still elusive for their families.

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Mr. Naidu said that after an agitation by their union, the boat owners agreed to give them 12 per cent share in the catch apart from daily wages and right to take away waste fish, which was converted into dry fish by them during the voyage.

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