The secret ballot to elect the trade union(s) to the coveted position of “recognized union(s) of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation” will be held at the Neyveli Township from 5.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. on Monday.

A total number of 10 trade unions who are in the fray are straining every nerve to prove their strength. This time around battle for the ballots has transcended the sphere of the trade unions to virtually turn into a political arena where every other political party has been flexing its muscle.

All leading political parties have thrown their weight behind their respective trade union wings to emerge at the top of the list. For the past one month Neyveli Township has been witnessing hectic political activity as a galaxy of leaders have descended on the town to campaign for their trade unions.

Those who were part of the blazing campaign included O.Panneerselvam and K.A.Sengottaiyan of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, M.K.Stalin of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Anbumani Ramadoss of the Pattali Makkal Katchi and Thol.Thirumavalavan of the Vduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi.

The secret ballot would be held at the work sites, such as the lignite mines, thermal power stations and the administrative wing. A little over 13,000 regular employees and officials would cast their votes in the ballot boxes to be kept at the respective work places. However, the NLC would function as usual on the poll day.

Regional Labour Commissioner M.M.Jagannatha Rao would act as the observer. The Central Industrial Security Forces would guard the premises from within while 500-strong police personnel would provide the external security.

The trade union(s) that would get 51 per cent of votes would be recognized by the NLC management for holding talks on labour related issues. The secret ballot is being held once in four years as per the direction of the Madras High Court.

It may be noted that till 2008 the Labour Progressive Front (LPF), owing allegiance to the DMK, remained the single largest union and in that capacity took up the labour issues with the management directly.

However, the central trade unions contested the “monopoly” of the LPF in the Madras High Court which subsequently directed the NLC management to conduct secret ballot and declare the trade union that gets 51 per cent of votes as a recognized union.

If no single union gets majority of votes the two unions that get more votes than the rest of the unions will be recognized by the management.

Accordingly, in the 2008 elections the LPF and the Pattali Thozhir Sangam (trade union wing of the PMK) together garnered 51 per cent of votes and therefore shared the negotiating table. It is learnt that the LPF continues to enjoy a large chunk of votes and the real test would be which trade union will emerge second. The central trade unions such as the INTUC, HMS and the BMS have joined hands with the Thozhilalar Viduthalai Munnani (of the VCK) to show their might.

Keywords: NLC union polls

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