NLC contract workers get hike, may call off strike

June 13th, 2008 - 9:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, June 13 (IANS) The ongoing contract worker’s strike at the Neyveli Lignite Corporation Limited (NLC) is likely to be called off as the talks called by Minister of State for Coal Santosh Bagrodia ended successfully in New Delhi Friday. A top company official preferring anonymity told IANS, “The meeting was attended by the unions representing the contract workers as well as recognised unions of permanent workers. It was decided that the contract workers would be paid Rs.750 more per month.”

On the issue of regularisation of contract workers, the meeting agreed that the NLC would absorb around 5,000 workers based on their seniority and availability of vacant posts.

The official said the contract workers and their family members will be extended medical facilities at NLC Hospital at Neyveli.

A contract worker at the NLC gets between Rs.3,000 and Rs.4,500 per month.

According to officials, the total annual wage bill for contract workers for the corporation works to Rs.1.12 billion and this is expected to go up by over Rs.200 million after the proposed hike.

Speaking about the absorption of workers, the official said the 5,000 contract workers based on their seniority will first be enrolled as members of Industrial Cooperative Society (ICS) and later be absorbed based on the company’s needs.

The NLC has two types of contract workers - those who are members of ICS and those who are not.

He said regularisation of the ICS members did not happen at fast pace as the NLC had to re-deploy its own workforce from its fertiliser units, which was closed down some years ago.

Till date, about 4,000 labourers who were members of the society were absorbed and around 800 workers await absorption.

The contract workers, who are members of the society, had formed a new union and filed a case for absorption with the Madras High Court.

The court in its judgment said the NLC should not ignore any section of the contract workers. It should consider the entire contract workforce for absorption, taking into account the workers’ seniority.

After enrolling 5,000 more contract workers as members, the total number of contract workers awaiting absorption at the NLC will go up to 5,800.

Meanwhile, power generation at the Rs.36.38 billion NLC thermal plants has dropped to 60 percent of the installed capacity due to the strike.

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