Tuesday, April 15, 2008

India's Agate Workers Demand Additional Government Compensation

A March 17th article highlights the struggles of Indian agate workers in the city of Khambhat suffering from silicosis. Agate is a mineral most commonly used to make jewelry. In response to workers' recent demands for government compensation, the government has set-up camps throughout the area, but the workers are demanding more "real" forms of compensation.

It was interesting to learn more about the history of the agate industry in Khambhat from a 2002 Asian Labour Update article. Apparently, silicosis is nothing new to the inhabitants of this city of 80,000 on India's western frontier. The mining, crafting and polishing of agate jewelry employs nearly 30,000 in the area and has been a major industry there for hundreds of years. It's unclear why this has become such a hot button issue over the past year.

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