Around 300 contract workers, mostly forest trackers helping in rescuing and treating endangered Asiatic lions, ended their day long hungerstrike on Monday after the Gujarat State Lion Conservation Society (GSLCS) agreed to postpone the implementation of its decision to outsource their jobs from next month.
Five days ago, the GSLCS had issued a circular, asking the Deputy Conservators of Forest (DCF) of Gir (East), Gir (West), Sasan, Gir Somnath, Amreli, Bhavnagar, Rajkot and Blackbuck National Park to do away with the system of hiring workers on contract basis. The circular stated that the outsourcing agencies will be hired through a tendering process and people will be hired from July. Earlier, the society hired its staff, mostly local villagers with knowledge of the behavior and habits of the Asiatic lions, on a contract for 11 months.
On Monday, workers staged a dharna outside the office of the Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) of Junagadh Wildlife Circle.
“There is a possibility of increase in man-animal conflict if specialised work is entrusted to inexperienced persons sourced from agencies. The work carried out directly under the supervision of GSLCS has yielded positive results. Therefore, we have objections to the outsourcing plan which can be exploitative,” the memorandum stated.
The workers gave GSLCS a deadline till 6 pm to revoke its decision.
In the evening, GSLCS secretary issued a letter to the striking trackers, stating that the implementation of the decision of hiring manpower through outsourcing agencies has been postponed till another decision is not taken about it.” The trackers then ended their strike.