Political parties call for hartal in Eloor today
General Secretary of FACT Employees’ Association P. S. Murali, who completed seven days of hunger strike on Monday, was arrested and shifted to a hospital in the city on a doctor’s recommendation after his condition deteriorated. Vice-president of FACT Workers’ Union M.T. Nixon took his place, carrying on the hunger strike.
A spokesman for Save FACT Action Committee, which is spearheading an agitation by the employees and officers of the fertilizer company, said doctors took stock of the fasting FACT worker’s health condition on Monday morning on a recommendation from the district administration.
The nearly 3,000 employees and officers of the public sector Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore, who have been on a warpath for more than a hundred days now, expressed their solidarity with their fasting colleague by foregoing food on Monday, said the spokesman.
All political parties have come together and declared a hartal in the Eloor Municipal area on Tuesday between 8 a.m. and 4 p. m. in support of the protesting FACT workers and officers, who are demanding that the Union government intervene immediately to address the problems confronting the company.
FACT’s most pressing problem is the cost of natural gas, which is now being made available to the company at US$23 per mmBtu, which is higher than the rate at which natural gas is being made available to other fertilizer companies in the country.
The FACT workers are also demanding that the State government withdraw the 14.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) imposed on LNG and that the Union government withdraw the 5.1 per cent Customs duty.
The Save FACT Action Committee criticised the State government for what it said was a lack of seriousness on its part to attend to the problems highlighted by the fasting employees of the fertilizer company.
The protesting workers were addressed by various trade union leaders, including T. P. Peethambaran of NCP; E.A. Kumaran of CPI; V. P. Ramachandran of the Congress (I) and Vice-Chairperson of the Eloor Municipality Subaida Nooruddeen.
Literary cirtic M. Thomas Mathew inaugurated a rally by the Trade Union Council of TCC Limited on Monday, expressing solidarity with the protesting FACT workers. The Kalamssery Assembly Committee of the Indian Union Muslim League also expressed solidarity with FACT workers.