The one-day strike organised by the 14,000-strong permanent employees of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited to protest against disinvestment paralysed the functioning of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant on Tuesday.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of IPC were clamped since Monday night and heavy police forces deployed to prevent untoward incidents. In solidarity with the strike by the permanent employees, nearly 20,000 contract workers also abstained from work. There was near total attendance by 6,000-odd officers, who reported to work ignoring an appeal by all the unions of VSP to the Steel Executives’ Association to abstain to express solidarity with them.
RINL, which is the corporate entity of VSP, is in the process of getting listed in the stock exchange in tune with the decision taken by the Central government.
A RINL spokesman said despite the strike, they could ensure minimum production to adhere to safety parameters.
“The 24-hour-long strike began at 6 a.m. with spontaneous support because of which the production loss would be around Rs. 50 crore,” Steel Plant Employees’ Union general secretary D. Adinarayana and Visakha Steel Employees' Congress general secretary Mantri Rajasekhar, told The Hindu.
All the unions including INTUC backed the strike. They alleged that the current phase of disinvestment would subsequently lead to privatisation of VSP, which was set up after 32 persons died in the `Visakha Ukku Andhrula Hakku’ agitation in late 1970s.
To start with, 10 per cent of equity held by the government is being offloaded. UBS Securities India and Deutsche, the book running lead managers, will manage the Rs. 2,500-crore Initial Public Offer (IPO). RINL submitted the draft red herring prospectus to SEBI on May 18.
The Department of Disinvestment at present put the IPO on hold due to volatile market conditions after rejecting a plea by RINL and the merchant bankers to put it off till September-October as the morale of the workforce had suffered after the blast at VSP on June 13 killing 19 employees.