Will the Neyveli Lignite Corporation Limited (NLC) employees go on strike as announced? This is the million dollar question that senior officials of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) are faced with. Why does it matter to people in the city? Because, if workers stay away from work from Wednesday night as announced, it would mean a straight loss of 1167 MW of power to the TN State grid.
Speaking to City Express, S S Subramanian of the CITU-affiliated Central Organisation of TN Electricity Employees (CoTE) said Tamil Nadu’s power situation would be ‘very much’ strained if NLC workers stayed away from work. “Yes. Definitely there will be a huge impact. Their demand is, however, 100 per cent correct and justified,” Subramanian said.
To express solidarity with NLC workers, CoTE, in association with other trade unions will hold a huge protest demonstration in front of the TNEB HQ on Anna Salai on Wednesday, he added.
Asked if they had contingency plans if NLC staffers stayed awar from work, sources in TANGEDCO maintained that ‘every option’ was being considered. Already, power is being purchased from private sources to the tune 923 MW on an average. Presently, supply from wind sector is around 2750 MW which is almost the optimum level.
“We are seeing if additional power purchase is possible. We are also looking at more load shedding as an option. However, everything will be decided only on a real time basis,” an official said.
Speaking to City Express from Neyveli, trade union leaders B Abu (AIADMK affiliated NLC Anna Workers Union) and S Raja Vannian (DMK affiliated NLC Labour Progressive Front) confirmed that all the 31,000 employees will go on strike from Wednesday night shift if their demand to not divest 5% stake in NLC is not met. “If at all they want to sell, it must only be to the TN government,” Abu said. “Centre must give up the idea of selling. Whether it is 5 per cent or 10 per cent does not matter,” Raja Vannian said.
NLC sources said they were worried as all sections of the work force had joined hands. “Officers (4500), regular confirmed workers (13000) and contract workers (13,500) have all come together. In the past, if one section struck work, we used to handle the situation with the rest. Now, that is not possible,” said the source.