If the government does not intervene to approve a revival and diversification package, FACT faces the prospects of coming under the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction

The Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore faces the prospects of falling into the net of Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction if the government does not intervene immediately to approve a revival and diversification package of about Rs. 8,000 crore, which has been pending before the government for two years now.

On a smaller scale, nothing has so far come of the three-month-old Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises' recommendation for an immediate financial package of Rs. 990 crore for the company.

The finances of other big public sector entities like the Kalamassery unit of HMT; Cochin Port Trust and Hindustan Organic Chemicals too are in poor shape. Their employees are voters mostly distributed in the geographical areas of Ernakulam and Chalakudy and to some extent in Kottayam Lok Sabha constituency.

The big question is how the conditions of these public sector enterprises will swing votes on April 10. And, nothing is more visible to voters in Kochi and its surroundings than the 64-day-old relay hunger strike by FACT employees and officers at the company headquarters in Eloor.

On Wednesday, the protest action is 164 days old and employees and officers of FACT feel let down so far by the indifference of the government to the plight of FACT. They have repeatedly pointed to the failure of parliamentarians from the State, particularly the incumbent Member of Parliament K.V. Thomas, in swinging things in the company’s favour.

Mr. Thomas, who is also Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, visited the venue of the protest action on Tuesday and met the protestors to assure them of help. However, there is visible disappointment among the employees’ organisations.

“Though the Minister has been assuring us that help would come FACT’s way over the last one-and-a-half years, nothing has come through,” said George Thomas, secretary of FACT Workers’ Organisation, an independent trade union at FACT.

He alleged that the Minister had misled the employees and the public. The Minister even called a press conference in December 2012 to announce that the Rs. 8,000-crore package was coming through, alleged George Thomas. In the meanwhile, other public sector units like Indian Telephone Industries had received financial packages for their revival, he said.

Secretary of FACT Officers’ Association and fellow Congress (I) man Madhu Purakkad said if FACT did not get the BRPSE recommended package before the elections, it would reflect badly on the incumbent MP. But he did not discount the possibility of the package coming through even now because the Finance Minister has already signed the file though it has not yet come to the Union Cabinet.

General secretary of FACT Employees’ Organisation (BMS) M.G. Shivashankaran said FACT employees had decided to observe April 4 as a ‘day of deception’ in protest against the failure of the government to attend to FACT’s problems. He said Mr. Thomas had not been effective in his interventions with the Union government on behalf of FACT.

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