PARADIP: The mass dharna by workers of Odisha Stevedores Limited (OSL) under the banner of Paradip Karmachari Milita Manch intensified with the agitators resorting to hunger strike from Saturday.
One of the agitators, Bhabgrahi Behera, had to be admitted to Atharbanki Hospital after his condition deteriorated while on hunger strike.
Hundreds of workers and helpers, who were working under different stevedoring agencies and equipment suppliers, have intensified their stir from August 26 over their demands.
They alleged that though they have been working for 18 hours, their wages have not been hiked and promotions not given. Instead, OSL engaged 16 new operators. The workers are also deprived of other benefits like EPF and ESI.
Protesting the decision of OSL, the helpers staged a demonstration and stalled cargo operation from Paradip Port on August 23 and 24. The OSL, on the other hand, lodged an FIR against helpers following which police arrested their union leader Abhaya Sahoo. The arrest further escalated the situation and other operators, supervisors and mechanics of different stevedoring agencies and equipment suppliers joined the stir.
Later, after an assurance by Paradip police and Paradip Stevedores’ Association, a section of irate workers called off the strike and joined duties. On the other hand, OSL claimed that Sahoo, being president of Paradip Karmachari Milita Manch, is misguiding the agitators who intensified stir in front of OSL without prior notice to the authority.
As tension gripped the area, OSL sought the intervention of the administration for promulgating Section 144 CrPC. Despite imposition of Section 144, the irate workers resorted to hunger strike from Friday night.