Even as the strike by lifeguards of Drishti Beach Management Services entered the sixth day today with no end to the problem in sight, the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) has urged the Government to intervene as mediators and resolve the issue.
Pointing out that this is the peak tourism season, TTAG spokesperson Ralph D’Souza said the absence of lifeguards on Goan beaches could bring the scary earlier scenario of the treacherous waters claiming lives thereby affecting tourism.
Three years ago, before Drishti was roped in, Goan beaches were being called killer beaches to an increasing number of deaths by drowning.
Ralph while pointing out that the lifeguards have saved hundreds of lives since their induction said that safety on the beaches is of paramount importance and government should intervene in the matter.
Meanwhile, both the management of Dristhi Beach Management Services and the striking lifeguards have stuck their grounds with no solution in sight even though some of the striking lifeguards have reported back for duty on Friday after receiving the notices from the management.
At Palolem, for example, all the 79 lifeguards manning the beach stretch from Betul to Galgibaga including the beaches of Canaguinim, Palolem and Agonda reported for duty bringing relief to the hundreds of tourists flocking these beaches. While earlier in the week only a single jet ski was seen doing the rounds of the beaches to provide safety to the swimmers, on Friday all the lifeguards were at their designated positions.
In fact, the strike appears to be waning in South Goa at least where of the 257 staff only 95 did not report for work on Friday while in North Goa 130 lifeguards did not report for duties.
The lifeguards struck work on Monday demanding higher wages and also action against seniors for assaulting the junior staff and the strike that began in the Calangute-Candolim belt spread all over the State the next day. The lifeguards are demanding a salary of Rs 10,000 per month as against the current salary of Rs 6,500 and also demanding reduction in the 10 hour work shift.
However, V K Kanwar of Dristhi Beach Management Services pleaded helplessness in meeting with this demand claiming that the terms of employment are guided by the contract they have signed with the Government of Goa.
He said that the salary offered at entry level was known to the lifeguards when they joined service and pointed out that there was scope for increased salaries following promotions. The company has 35 captains who draw a monthly salary of Rs 8,500 while 14 supervisors are paid Rs 12 to 14 thousand per month. Higher up are the two zonal in-charges drawing a monthly salary of Rs 20 to Rs 24 thousand.
Faced with the strike, Dristhi Beach Management Services had on Thursday sacked the 54 trainees for joining the strike besides serving notices on 308 lifeguards.
It is learnt that the lifeguards are scheduled to meet on Saturday evening to chalk out their strategy.