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Paying through their nose to find a way home: How Indian fish workers suffered during lockdown by Supriya Vohra November 04,2020   |  Source: YKA

ndia’s mechanised marine fishing sector employs thousands of fish workers, who, for ten months in a year, migrate from the country’s eastern and interior regions to the west coast. They work on the boats and at the harbour, doing a variety of jobs — labour-intensive work such as loading and unloading the fish, hauling nets, ferrying fish stocks from trucks to the auction site, crushing ice, making ice and transporting stocks.

They have poor working conditions, no representation in any unions, and are often invisibilised and ostracised. The nation-wide lockdown on 24th March left many stranded on boats at sea and the harbour, abandoned by their employers, and ignored by the governments. This essay threads a timeline of what the fish workers had to go through during the lockdown. Apathy is the main protagonist of this piece.

Akshay Oram came to the Vasco harbour in Goa for the first time in 2017. “My father went first to work on the boats. I followed him, wanting him to come back. ‘You go home, I’ll do the work,’ I said to him,” says the 20 year old from Jharsuguda, Odisha.

“That’s how I ended up working on the boats,” he says. “I had just finished my 12th grade and wanted to study further, but we had money problems at home. So I didn’t really

 

© YKA Media Pvt. Ltd.

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