ROURKELA: Ahead of the Durga Puja, various trade unions of the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) here have upped the ante against the SAIL management demanding festive ex gratia to public sector steel workers, including RSP.
Sources said with the SAIL suffering a net loss of `4,137 crore and RSP’s Loss Before Taxes at `2,523.52 crore in 2015-16 financial year (FY), the SAIL management is unlikely to agree for festive ex gratia in normal course. To make things worse, SAIL has reported net loss of `536 crore in quarter 1 (Q1) of 2016-17 FY. All eyes are now on the next meeting of the National Joint Committee for Steel (NJCS). The NJCS, comprising members of Central trade unions BMS, CITU, AITUC, INTUC and HMS and SAIL management, is a consultative and decision-making body for public sector steel workers from all steel plants of SAIL.
Rourkela Ispat Karkhana Karmachari Sangh (RIKKS) general secretary H S Bal said the next NJCS meeting is likely to be held in two weeks and hoped the decision on festive ex gratia for RSP and other public sector steel workers would be taken. Asked about the loss suffered by SAIL and RSP, he said festive ex gratia is based on production and productivity and not on profit. He warned of agitation if RSP workers were denied their legitimate right.
Rourkela Shramik Sangh (RSS) leader Prashant Behera said till 2014, SAIL workers were given `18,040 as festive ex gratia, but in 2015, the SAIL refused to pay and under intense pressure, released `9,000 for each worker. He said the RSS is demanding balance of `9,040 of 2015 and `18,040 in 2016.
SAIL had categorically denied to pay festive ex gratia in 2015 and faced agitations with all trade unions joining hands. With unions of all steel plants threatening strike on November 19 last year, the SAIL was left with no option but to pay `9,000 to each employee.