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Sesa Goa workers go on 72-hr strike

Our Bureau

MUMBAI, July 13

SESA Goa Ltd (SGL), which informed the BSE on Thursday of a 72-hour `illegal' strike by its employees since July 11, is believed to have suspended operations in two major mines.

The information could not be confirmed with SGL's management as the officials concerned were in a meeting and hence unavailable. Others declined comment citing company policy.

SGL, 51 per cent-owned by Mitsui of Japan, is the largest iron ore exporter from Goa. It had reported a 153.25 per cent rise in net profit in 2000-2001 to Rs 18.31 crore, with sales/income from operations at Rs 354.08 crore.

Around April-May too, SGL's employees resorted to a strike which lasted roughly a fortnight. A senior SGL official, speaking to Business Line on June 14, had said normal work was back in place and ongoing discussions with workers pointed to a settlement.

But well-placed sources in the mining industry said today that the company called off operations for a week at its Sonshi and Codli mines (deemed major mines by the industry) a few days ago following violence. The worker violence, the first in SGL's hist ory, saw a company general manager being beaten up, they said.

The unrest is ascribed in industry circles to a wage settlement and more importantly, the company's need to have a third shift at its mines to ensure proper utilisation of heavy machinery. Its attempt to have a third shift operated by permanent workers a ppears to have triggered the current stand-off.

Though the norm at most Goan mines is two shift-operation, industry sources concede that SGL also pays the highest in the sector.

Work elsewhere in Goa's mining industry is normal, labour unions being company-specific.

Nevertheless, what was worrying, industry sources said, was that the SGL issue may be gaining needless political hue as the subject found mention recently in Goa's Assembly.

The export season for Goan iron ore starts in September.

On the BSE, the SGL scrip gained marginally to close at Rs 52.95.

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