Strike-hit NLC seeks ways to keep power plant running

Sunday, 30 March 2008, 07:00 Hrs
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Chennai: Even as it is engaged in reconciliation talks with the striking contract workers, the management of the 27.43 billion revenue Neyveli Lignite Corp Ltd (NLC) is taking alternative steps to keep its power plant running, said a top official.

An official of the company, who declined to be identified, said: "We have requested the permanent staff to chip in so that parts of Tamil Nadu would not plunge into darkness."

Conciliation talks are on with the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), he added.

Nearly 90 percent of the NLC's 12,000 contract labourers working at lignite mines and power plants at Neyveli are on a strike since Saturday, raising a number of demands like bonus payment, absorption of contract workers into the company's rolls and recognition of a contract workers union.

Speaking on the demands, the official said: "NLC has 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, we have asked the labour contractors to include the bonus element in their quotations for contract," he said.

On the issue of absorbing the contract workers in the company rolls he said: "We have absorbed around 4,000 contract workers, who are members of Industrial Cooperative Society. The balance will also be absorbed."

Meanwhile, NLC is likely to file a special leave petition (SLP) with the Supreme Court contesting a recent Madras High Court order to absorb all contract workers.

Already, NLC has over 5,000 people in excess and absorbing all the contract workers would make the company unviable, the official said.

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 worker unions which claim to fight for contract workers' welfare.

Meanwhile, the striking workers plan to hold a public meeting in Neyveli Monday and go on fast the next day.

The NLC management said their power plant could run with the existing lignite stock for next two days, provided it does not rain.
Source: IANS
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