Neyveli Lignite workers to continue strike

June 10th, 2008 - 11:04 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Chennai, June 10 (IANS) The conciliation talks held here between Neyveli Lignite Corp Ltd (NLC) and its striking contract workers broke down Tuesday as the labourers were steadfast on their demands - absorption by NLC and pay parity with the permanent employees. According to company officials, NLC acting chairman and managing director J.N. Prasanna Kumar and personnel director P. Babu Raohas went to meet union Minister of State for Coal Santhosh Bagrodia after the talks failed.

On Monday Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to look into the NLC issue and find an amicable solution.

Officials, who did not want to be named, have said power generation at the 2,490 MW plant in NLC will shortly reach 60 percent capacity from the present 40 percent once the problems in the lignite conveyor belt are solved.

The 13,000-odd contract workers, who went on strike in March also, demand full absorption by NLC, citing a Madras High Court order.

However, the company moved the Supreme Court and got a stay order on the High Court judgement.

The first strike was called off in April following an assurance by state Power Minister Arcot N. Veeraswami that he would take up the matter with the central government. However, the workers went on strike again as the issue remained unresolved.

A meeting called by the chief labour commissioner in New Delhi June 6 did not deliver a solution. The commissioner has now asked the deputy labour commissioner in Chennai to look into the matter.

An NLC official said the company has paid minimum wages to all contract labourers. It has also paid an extra allowance of Rs.500 per head.

“At an average, a contract worker gets around Rs.4,500 per month. The demand of regularisation or equality in pay with that of permanent workers is almost impossible to meet,” said another official.

NLC has told the apex court that it cannot bear the financial burden of giving regular jobs to all contract workers.

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