Neyveli Lignite workers call off eight-day-old strike

April 5th, 2008 - 11:09 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead)

Neyveli (Tamil Nadu), April 5 (IANS) Over 12,000 contract labourers of the state-run Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) Saturday called off their eight-day-old strike. The strike call was given by the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) demanding regularization of all contract workers as per a Madras High Court order, payment of bonus for the past two years and recognition of the union by the NLC management.

While the demands are yet to be met, the union found some support in Tamil Nadu Electricity Minister Arcot N. Veeraswami who assured the state assembly Thursday that the government would make efforts to end the labour strife at NLC.

The last couple of days saw political parties like the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and the Left parties coming in support of the contract workers.

A series of conciliation meetings between union representatives and the NLC management, held under the aegis of the labour commissioner, ended without any decision.

The next meeting is scheduled to be held in Puducherry Tuesday.

Situated 250 km south of Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai, NLC operates lignite mines and a 2,490 MW power plant.

Majority of the contract workers are employed in the mines.

NLC will appeal in the high court against its order to regularise all contract workers, a senior official of the firm said. “We still have six weeks to file our appeal,” the official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

The NLC management is also weighing the pros and cons of according recognition to a contract workers union. According to the company, there are already 13 unions, which claim to fight for contract workers’ welfare.

The NLC management had told IANS that it had agreed to make arrangements to pay the 8.33 percent bonus as per the Bonus Act to the contract workers through their principal employers - labour contractors - for 2006 and 2007.

For the next fiscal the management had asked the labour contractors to include the bonus element in their quotations for contract.

NLC has posted record operational performance for 2007-08. The company mined 21.58 million tonnes of lignite in the last fiscal against 21 million tonnes mined in the previous year.

For the same period, NLC generated 17.5 billion units of power against 15.8 billion units during 2006-07.

The central government owns 93.56 percent of NLC’s Rs.16.77 billion equity capital. The balance is largely with financial institutions and a small portion is held by individual public.

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