Trouble has started brewing in the NLC as the trade unions, numbering 12, are gearing up for a long-drawn struggle to oppose thedecision of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs to divest 5 per cent of Neyveli Lignite Corporation’s shares.
Though strike is the last resort of the trade unions they feel that they are pushed to such a situation by the overbearing attitude of the Centre that is bent upon imposing its decision on the NLC.
On Sunday the trade union leaders representing the Labour Progressive Front, the Anna Workers and Staff Union, the AITUC, the CITU, the HMS, the BMS and so on held talks to chart out the strategy on how to register their protest.
Rama. Udayakumar, secretary of the Anna Workers and Staff Union (affiliated to the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), told The Hindu that in today’s meeting only the union leaders participated.
Again, the unions would hold talks with the office-bearers of the associations of NLC officials and executives on Monday to chart out a unified action.
Mr. Udayakumar hinted that in all probability strike notice would be served on the NLC on Monday afternoon.
Mr. Udayakumar said that as per the rules such a notice should be served 15 days ahead of the strike. “During the interregnum the trade unions would have to undertake a lot of coordinating works and warming up exercises such as staging gate meetings, street meetings, forming human chains, fasting and so on,” he said.
These were the practices normally adopted for preparing the workforce for the impending strike. He said that the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had made its stand clear on the issue by stoutly opposing the move and its affiliated union too was reflecting the same view.
General Secretary of the Labour Progressive Front S. Rajavanniyan told this correspondent that the Centre tried to take cover under the specious plea that disinvestment was the route suggested by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and therefore it ought to be complied with.
Mr. Rajavanniyan argued that after all the SEBI could issue only the guidelines and it could not impose its decision on the Central government. Therefore, the Centre could over rule the SEBI recommendations at any time.
He said that it sounded odd that through the stake sale the Centre could raise revenue of Rs. 466 crore. For the past 25 years the NLC was making profits and passing on dividends, aggregating to over Rs. 3,000 crore, to the Centre.
For the previous financial year (2011-2012) the NLC paid a dividend of about Rs. 470 crore to the Centre and for the financial year 2012—2013 it would go to Rs. 480 crore.
“Therefore, the reason trotted out by the Centre for disinvestment would not wash,” Mr. Rajavanniyan said.
Hence, the unions were taking the enlightened steps to stall any such move. For the purpose the unions had decided to take on board the various associations of the technical and non-technical officials of the NLC in this regard.
Both the union leaders are convinced of the view that only through solidarity their cause could ring true and the struggle could gather momentum.