Striking Panaji lifeguards warned of being replaced with fresh batch

Panaji: A private company engaged in providing lifeguard services on Goa's beaches on Thursday warned its employees that they would be replaced with a fresh batch of lifeguards if they continue with the strike.

Nearly 600 lifeguards are on strike for last eight days demanding regularisation in services and higher wages.

"The lifeguards at the time of employment were informed and made aware of their salary, increment, duties and responsibilities. It is unjustifiable to hold the people, government and Drishti at ransom with such arbitrary claims," Drishti Lifesaving Services Private Limited's chief executive officer Manoj Agiwal told reporters today.

"In the event of the lifeguards failing to return, Drishti will be left with no option but to train and employ a new batch of lifeguards who are willing to work," he said. He said the strike is illegal, unreasonable, unjustifiable and completely opportunistic.

"The lifeguards have been lured with dreams and false promises. The lifeguards signed up for the job out of their own free will and the company has honoured every commitment made," Agiwal said.

The government, under the new contract which Drishti Lifesaving was awarded, increased salaries of lifeguards from Rs 6,500 to Rs 10,500 and above. This sudden demand for doubling of salary has come after the labour union mislead the lifeguards, he charged.

Drishti's Director Ankit Somani said over the last eight days of the strike, all operations have been undertaken smoothly and they have been able to ensure the safety of all people on the beaches of Goa.

"Numerous lifeguards have returned to work over the last few days and a lot others are willing to join in soon. It is also interesting to note that almost 200 lifeguards are being threatened not to report to work and choose to stay at home out of fear of retaliation," Somani charged.

"These demonstrations and protests are being carried out by a small number of misled lifeguards. We, therefore, urge all the striking lifeguards not to be misled by false promises and return to work without any fear," he added.

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