CUDDALORE: More than half of the contract workers of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) reported for work on Tuesday though their unions had extended support to the strike called by regular employees demanding wage revision.
The contract workers seem to be reluctant to join the protest despite announcing support. “When we went on a strike for 52 days demanding regularisation of jobs, the regular employees did not support us. Though our union leaders have extended support to the regular employees now, we would still go for work. We have no concrete assurance from the leaders of regular employees’ unions that they would stand with us for our demands,” a representative said.
The recognised unions - Labourers Progressive Union and Anna Workers and Staff Union - had announced indefinite strike from Monday night after talks with the management did not bear fruit. The joint council of ten other unions, including CITU and Pattali Thozil Sangam, also supports the strike. The next round of talks between the management and unions will be held in Chennai on Wednesday.
However, the ten unions have a difference of opinion over the demand put forth by the recognised unions. While the latter have been asking for a 24 per cent hike and two increments, the others are demanding 30 per cent hike and two increments.
Velmurugan, president of CITU-NLC, said, “In the previous settlement, the management agreed to give 25 per cent hike in addition to two increments. It is normal that the next settlement should have advantages more than the previous one.”
There is also view among employees that recognised unions are not giving importance to other demands. “Of course, wage revision is very important. But there are four other demands which are equally important,” said a senior employee.
Rama Udhayakumar, general secretary of AWSU, and another member, Abu, said, “We are trying to get more support from the contract workers. We assured them that we would stand with them in future.”
As of now, the strike does not seem to have an impact on power production. An official source said, “With the help of executives and contract workers, NLC could produce power for the next few days using the lignite stock on hand. But power generation would be hit if the strike extends beyond four or five days.”