KARNATAKA: HUTTI GOLD MINES WORKERS' STRUGGLE STILL CONTINUING

14 March 2019

The Huttti Gold Mines which is located in Lingsugur Taluk of Raichur district (North Karnataka) is one of the  public enterprises undertaken by the Government of Karnataka which was started in 1947 by Brtitish-Nizam regime in the name of Deccan (Hyderabad) Gold Mines. Out of 37 major Public Enterprises, Hutti Gold mines is the only Gold producer in India which is awarded as the number one Gold Producer by the World Gold Council in 2001. This Gold Mines has three shafts including Mallappa shaft which is operating 3000 feet in depth under the ground.

Out of its 4054 employees,2223 people are working under the ground in a rotational shift of 8 hrs per day; remaining 1831 people are engaged in plant, mill, engineering and administrative departments. So overall 25000(employees and their family) people directly and in-directly, one lakh people including small businessmen around the company are earning their bread and butter from this mining industry.

Production and Profit Statements

With all the risky circumstances and working conditions, more than 2000 metric tons of ore is extracted from the ground and 5 to 7 kgs of gold is produced out of it every day. The workers are engaged in deep hole drilling, blasting and stone crushing under the ground who are supplied with the oxygen from the surface outside. And there is no electricity supplied under the ground and they work with the help of their headlight lamp.

According to mining condition, the ore is very rare in reefs. For 2.5 gms of gold produced they have to crush 1000 metric tons of rock under the ground to get 100 tons of ore. With all these conditions, they have produced a very good amount of gold in the last ten years as follows:

2007-08 —>2808.38 kg, 2008-09 —>2420.38 kg, 2009-10 —>2068.80 kg, 2010-11 —>2219.24 kg, 2011-12 —>2180.70 kg, 2012-13 —>1582.57 kg, 2013-14 —>1556.46 kg, 2014-15 —>1429.59 kg, 2015-16 —>1310.29 kg, 2016-17 —>1579.22 kg, 2017-18 —>1639.52 kg

It is showing decrease in production, but it is not true. As per the company policy: When the rate of the gold is increasing in the market, the workers are advised to collect lower grade ore and reserve the higher grade ore for future. In the above period mentioned, the lower grade ore was extracted more due to the increasing rate of gold day by day with respect to the rate of Dollar. Out of 5308.10 crores of gross income during last 10 yrs, expenditure rate is 4303.30 crores and net profit rate is 100.79 crores. It shows yearly profit of more than 100 crores and workmen share of 1.32 crores per person. But still, the state capitalism is not satisfied and wants more production and profit. One surprising thing is that without any budgetary support from state government, the Hutti Gold mines has paid 434 crores to the state government as tax and donation in last ten years.

Why Are We Struggling?

With above details, Hutti Gold Mines Staff and Employees Union affiliated to TUCI demanding for 33% of increment in wages for five years (2016-21) through different forms of protest as mentioned below. Workers struggle is going on from last 4 months starting with indefinite Dharna and hunger strike for 43 days, Mass Dharna held in front of Belagavi Mini Vidhana soudha during winter assembly session, and at 4th stage held a highway bandh in January and other forms of agitations. 2000 workers are directly involved in the struggle and more than 300 cadres are working regularly for running the struggle successfully.

There were 13 rounds of discussions happened for negotiations between the union and the company management during the struggle so far. But board of directors of the company are not ready make the increment in wages as per our demand and sticking to only 25% hike in basic salary, 2.5% hike in plot waitage and also they are refusing to pay even night shift, fuel and electricity allowances. Once again it shows anti-working class attitude of government and discouragement and divestment in public sector according to their neoliberal policies.

The challenge before us is to expose state government’s anti-labour policies and the attitude of reformist unions like AITUC, CITU and INTUC who are openly supporting the management. And in this situation there is no doubt about even going for the full pledged strike in the coming days which will be led by our union. n

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Kabeer Katlat

The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.