Haldia Petrochemicals contract workers go on strike

November 21st, 2009 - 9:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Nov 21 (IANS) Over 1,500 contract workers of Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL) began an indefinite strike Saturday in support of a charter of demands including wage revision and increase in allowance.
The HPL plant in Haldia is now on a planned 75-day shutdown with only maintenance and repair work on. But the strike has affected the ongoing work on the Rs.1,230-crore supermax project, workers and the management said.

The striking workers are affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the trade union arm of West Bengal’s ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist.

The company management claimed that the HPL Contractors’ Workers Union Friday served the strike notice when the conciliation proceedings towards settlement of the charter of demands was on between the company and the union in the presence of the additional labour commissioner.

“The strike has started since this (Saturday) morning,” a company statement said.

Because of the strike the ongoing work on the supermax project has come to a halt, the company said.

The supermax project, which constitutes the second phase expansion project of HPL, aims to raise the annual production capacity from 520,000 tonnes to 670,000 tonnes per annum.

Meanwhile, vice-president of the agitating HPL Servicing and Maintenance Workers Union Sureshwar Manna told IANS that the workers resorted to strike as the management representatives at the tripartite talks refused to sign an agreement.

“The talks continued for two days (Nov 19-20). When we had reached the stage of signing the agreement, they said they cannot ink it. They said they needed the go-ahead from the top bosses. Then we smelt a rat and decided to go on strike,” Manna said.

“If they did not have the mandate to conclude the deal, then why did they attend the meeting?” he asked.

The charter of demands contains 40 to 41 points.

“The main demand is wage revision as the earlier wage settlement had expired in June,” Manna said and complained that there has been no initiative from the management to restart a dialogue since Saturday morning.

He also alleged that the opposition Trinamool Congress had tried to break the strike by bringing outsiders who roughed up two of the strikers.

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