ROURKELA: Production at the Rourkela Steel plant of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) was affected as a majority of workers joined the 24 hours strike on Wednesday morning demanding wage revision.
Even as the plant management with help of officers made desperate efforts to keep key production units running to avoid the risk of shutdown, the loss related to disruption is estimated at over Rs 20 crore.
Units running means easy revamping of production from Thursday, while restoration of production after the shutdown of units involves a complicated process.
Sources said members of the affiliated associations of five central trade unions -- BMS, INTUC, CITU, HMS, and AITUC, along with other locally registered trade unions of RSP resorted to picketing at five entry points of the steel plant and staged a demonstration.
According to RSP management, production was ‘throttled’ without shutdown of any unit and the workers’ attendance was around 20 per cent (pc). A majority of workers defied the RSP’s warning of severe disciplinary actions and pay cut for joining the ‘illegal' strike.
President of BMS-affiliated Rourkela Ispat Karkhana Karmachari Sangh (RIKKS), the recognised union of RSP, HS Bal said about 90 pc workers did not attend work despite the threat and accused the management of manipulative claim on attendance.
He claimed the strike evoked spontaneous response at RSP and eight other steel plants and all mines across the country.
Incidentally, the strike at RSP took place after almost 11 years. Earlier in 2010, agitating workers had stopped production for 48 hours over the same demand.
Steel Executives’ Federation of India (SEFI) General Secretary and RSP Executives’ Association (RSPEA) President Bimal Bisi said the units were running with ‘throttled’ production.
He said officers with help of remaining workers who did not join the strike have ensured production at key units. "Two blast furnaces are on to keep other downstream units running, while the furnace No. 4 was rested for maintaining required temperature to start production later without complication," he informed.
Bisi took a dig at the striking unions stating that the wage issue needs to be resolved through a democratic dialogue process and not by bullying and causing loss to the exchequer. The pay revision of officers done in every 10 years is also pending since January 2017, he added.