CUDDALORE: At a time when the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) is battling a strike by its employees, it is entangled in a parallel row over the poor representation of Tamils in its ranks of Junior Engineers. Local political leaders and trade unionists are seeing red over the fact that only five of the recently recruited 157 Junior Engineers are from Tamil Nadu.
One of the contentions of these protesting groups is that despite having technical qualification, children of those who had given their land for setting up the NLC, have not been recruited in the organisation. In fact, the labour unions, which have raised a red flag over wage hike have also placed a demand that the NLC must give at least 65 per cent jobs to those from Tamil Nadu.
“Not only Junior Engineers, even while recruiting BE graduates, Tamil youth are unable to make their way in as the GATE scores are considered. It is mostly those from the north and central India who get the jobs,” rued Rama Udhayakumar, secretary of Anna Workers and Staff Union.
He said, those from other States don’t stay on the job for over two years. “They resign and join some mines in their home State or neighbouring regions. And the communication barrier between them and the workers which affects productivity,” said Udhayakumar.
CITU-NLC president Velmurugan said that previously the NLC used to recruit diploma holders in Civil, Mechanical and other branches and trained them to work in mines, which made it possible for the local youth to get jobs. “Now they are recruiting only candidates who hold a Diploma in Mining Engineering, a course that is not offered in Tamil Nadu.
This has affected the prospects of the local youth,” he said.
A NLC official said that the organisation had nothing to with the regional imbalance in its ranks of Junior Engineers as the recruitment process including conducting of written examination and interviews were outsourced. “The number of applicants for the post of Junior Engineer itself was less. Among the 600-odd candidates who got selected for the interviews only less than 10 were from Tamil Nadu. As per the Mines Act, we can only recruit those with a Diploma in Mining Engineering for the post,” the official said.
Since Tamil Nadu does not have the course, “we are examining the viability of launching a diploma course in Neyveli or Chennai to train the local youth,” he added. This incidentally is a demand placed by Tamizhaga Valvurimai Katchi (TVK) president Panruti T Velmurugan too. “If such a training centre is established, the local youth belonging to families that parted with their lands for the NLC project could be trained and recruited,” he said.