Even as the government is all set to celebrate the first anniversary of its ambitious Anna Bhagya scheme on July 10, over 7,000 hamalis (head-load workers) from various parts of the State are preparing to launch an indefinite strike against government’s ‘apathy’ in settling their demands.
Hundreds of workers, belonging to the Karnataka State Loading and Unloading Workers’ Federation, will converge on the Bangalore City Railway Station on Tuesday and take out a procession to Freedom Park, where they will commence their indefinite agitation.
Vasu, convener of Karnataka Shramika Shakti, said the State government’s move to lift foodgrains from the Food Corporation of India godowns, instead of Karnataka State Food and Civil Supplies Corporation and Taluk Agricultural Produce Market Committees, and supply the same to fair price shops directly has affected the livelihood of hamalis.
Though several representations were made to the government to rehabilitate the workers, who were involved in loading and unloading ration materials from the past three decades, the government had not responded to their plea, he said.
Leaders of the federation met Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Dinesh Gundu Rao three times in the last one year to apprise him of the problem. In one meeting, the Minister agreed to increase the wages of labourers from Rs. 6 to Rs. 10 a quintal. But the Minister failed keep up his promise. “Wages were not revised in the last eight years,” Mr. Vasu said.
Though the Food and Civil Supplies Department claimed that the decision has been taken to prevent delay in transporting foodgrains to fair price shops, workers argued that the government had ignored them.