Hundreds of boat workers laid a siege to the Collectorate on Monday in protest against reduction in share of catch to them by vessel owners under the pretext of recurring losses.

Marching in a rally from the Fishing Harbour after offering prayers to Gangamma Talli, the fishermen under the banner of AITUC-affiliated Visakhapatnam Fishing Harbour Workers' Union came to the Collectorate and raised slogans. A delegation led by CPI district secretary and union's honorary president J.V. Satyanarayana Murthy submitted a memorandum to the Collector to impress upon the boat owners to concede their demand.

Mr. Murthy told reporters that the drivers and other workers engaged in the boat during the voyage were not given wages. Instead, they get share in the catch.

The workers who used to get 12 per cent of the catch were now offered eight to nine per cent.

The miscellaneous fish, which they convert as dry fish, was also being claimed by the owners.

The workers demanded that they get 12 per cent of the catch as well as dry fish. In addition, they wanted insurance of Rs.5 lakh per worker as they were exposed to lot of risk during rough weather.

The workers decided to take out a rally and lay siege to the Collectorate after observing strike for 10 days bringing fishing activity to a standstill.

The representations submitted by the AITUC-affiliated union to the AP Mechanised Boat Operators' Association and Andhra Dolphin Boat Operators' Welfare Association did not evoke a positive response in the last few days.

“The boat workers are not demanding increase in their share. Their demand for 12 per cent share in the catch and freedom to sell dry fish is quite genuine,” Mr. Murthy said.

However, the boat owners rejected their demand saying due to steep increase in diesel price, cost of operation and depleting catch, fishing was no more viable.

During talks held before the protest, they had offered 50 per cent from their net earnings.

Keywords: AITUC

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