Following the government order on scarpping of the Niyamgiri mining project and indictment of Vedanta for carrying out expansion work of its refinery at Lanjigarh without permission, more than 5000 workers were suddenly retrenched yesterday by L&T, the contractor for carrying out Vedanta's construction work.
On being served the retrenchment notice - verbally - the workers demanded their backlog payments’ and compensation to which the company did not heed. Workers then went on to stage a strike. It is reported that demands and downright denials led to a violent situation, in which there was some damage to the plant properties. Then the police accompanied by vedanta goons attacked the demonstrators and beat them up mercilessly... More than hundred workers are injured with bleeding heads, broken limbs, and internal injuries. Hundreds of workers have been arrested and, as reports coming from Lanjigarh this morning suggests, are being further beaten up in the police station.
Some backgrounder and facts:
1. I had interviewed more than two dozens of workers on camera last February and they had said that not a single worker is given an identity card; even many of them did not possess any entry slip (roll card).
2. The original address of most workers was distorted on record so that in case of any accident or retrenchment or any other such thing, the company could prove that such person did not exist at all, and that they could not be challenged legally.
3. Most workers complained the payment was much less than promised/stipulated besides being very erratic.
4. Workers felt trapped as their backlog payments were huge and could not even leave the job even if they wanted to.
5. Safety measures were almost non-existent and the workers always did their job taking great risks.
6. There had been many deaths inside the plant in accidents, which were not reported outside.
... and so on.
The present situation calls for intervention by the media and legal experts. Since the company cannot go on with the expansion work now after being slammed officially and publicly, there has to be ways for the workers to get their rights... and not such a raw deal as being dumped, then beaten up and arrested.