With tension slowly gripping the town ahead of the indefinite strike, the second line leaders of NLC trade unions staged demonstrations in front of the mines, thermal power stations and offices on Monday.
Raising slogans urging the Centre to drop the move to divest five per cent of NLC shares, the leaders of recognised trade unions claimed that it was indeed the first step towards privatisation of the profit making company.
In a show of solidarity, the unions categorically stated that they would not budge till the Centre totally gave up the divestment proposal. Meanwhile, trade unions, affiliated to political parties, are taking up agitations individually as well. The Anna Workers and Staff Union (AWSU), affiliated to the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, has decided to participate in both the party-sponsored agitation and the Joint Action Council-sponsored day-long fast scheduled for Tuesday.
AWSU secretary Rama. Udayakumar said the hunger-strike will begin at 6 a.m. and conclude at 6 p.m. After participating in the fast for the first few hours along with other trade unions, the union’s members will gather at the Main Bazaar of the Neyveli Township to take part in the AIADMK-sponsored agitation only to return to the fasting venue .
S. Rajavanniyan, JAC convenor, said the AIADMK agitation would be a separate affair and it would not impact the proposed hunger-strike because the AWSU members would unfailingly participate in the fast as well.
Unlike other political parties that are strongly opposing the Centre’s disinvestment proposal, the Congress is keeping aloof.
The local leaders of the party are, in fact, in a dilemma as they could not utter any word either for or against the Centre’s move.
Asked about it, District Congress Committee president A. Nedunchezhiyan preferred not to speak about the issue. “INTUC, the trade union, affiliated to Congress, will participate in the hunger strike and other forms of agitation,” he emphasised.
Another Congress leader, who did not want to be identified, said that when all other Navratna companies were complying with the guidelines of the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) by having 10 per cent public shareholding why the NLC (trade unions) should claim exemption from the rule.
He questioned why the AIADMK government that privatised the Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Ltd. and parted with the SPIC shares should now float the idea of buying the NLC shares through the government undertakings.