Over 500 workers from hot rolling steel mills in Wazirpur, who have been on strike since June 5, on Thursday surrounded the Labour Department Office, in protest against factory owners going back on an agreement signed on June 27 in presence of the Department officials.

Workers from over 20 mills surrounded the District Labour Commissioner’s Office from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., while shouting slogans for their demands of a minimum wage of Rs.10,374 for skilled work, overtime wages, weekly-offs, and Provident Fund and health benefits to be recognised.

On June 27, District Labour Commissioner (South-West and North) had supervised the signing of an agreement between the workers and the owners of hot rolling steel mills. But the workers alleged that the gates were locked when they reached plants the next day, signifying that the owners had withdrawn from the agreement.

They also alleged that when a few workers entered the plant to begin work on Thursday, the owners locked them inside. Accompanied by a heavy deployment of State police, the workers then took out a procession to the District Labour Commissioner’s office in Nimdi Colony.

“What was signed by the employers and workers on June 27 is a legally-binding document. Employers want to now go back on their word. We demand that the administration take action against them,” said trade unionist Ajay Swami.

District Labour Commissioner U.K. Sinha did not respond to SMSes for a comment.

“The strike has been on for four weeks now. Till they agitate peacefully, the workers will be allowed to protest,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (North-West) N. Gnana Sambandan.

In a note to The Hindu on the signed agreement, Additional Labour Commissioner Rajender Dhar had listed details of the negotiation between the two parties. “With the intervention of the Labour Department, a large number of workers have been ensured minimum wages, statutory records, on time disbursement of salary, facility of leave, bonus, working for eight hours, safety equipment to the workers concerned wherever required and coverage under ESI & PF. Violations, if any, can be brought to the notice of the Department for further necessary action on defaulting employer.”

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