A second-round conciliation talk initiated by the Labour Department to settle an ongoing dispute between head-load workers and the contractor at the upcoming Government Cyberpark project site over the unloading of construction materials failed to arrive at an amicable solution on Monday.

Though representatives of both the parties came to attend the talk steered by officials from the Labour Commissioner’s office at the Civil Station, it did not bring out any positive result.

Stuck on stand

The lawyers who appeared for the contractor seemed reluctant to move back from their previous stance and sought permission to employ the workers of their choice at the construction site.

Labour union leaders said the discussion was given up midway, as they too were not in a situation to accept the stance of the contractor’s lawyers and wanted to restore the work rights of the head-load workers at the project site.

As the two factions were not ready to accept the conditions, the Labour office dispersed the meeting and decided to hold a third round of talks on the issue next Monday.

Indefinite stir

Meanwhile, leaders of a coordination of five major trade unions who were heading the protest affirmed that they would move to an indefinite hunger stir if the contractor currently in-charge of the work at the Cyberpark was not ready to change his stance.

“Till very recently, the 114 native head-load workers were getting regular job at the project site. Their service was rejected all of a sudden by projecting unjustifiable technical reasons and employing migrant workers,” they claimed.

P.M. Karthikeyan, one of the five leaders of the coordination committee, said the Labour department was trying to move in favour of the contractor’s decision and acting against the interest of the local labour force.

“The head-load workers here were making a living with the income they got from the work at the Cyberpark. Now most of them are groping in the dark, as they have no similar job opportunities in nearby locations,” he explained.

Official view

Countering the labour unions’ argument, official sources from the Labour Department said they were just implementing the government rules and not trying to scuttle the rights of the native work force.

At a Special Economic Zone, only workers holding official identity cards issued by the Labour Commissioner would be permitted.

In addition to this, the contractor who won the bid would be privileged to select the labourers of his choice to unload goods above three tonnes.

He would be committed to utilise the local work force only when it was required to unload goods below three tonnes, they clarified.

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