Any proposal other than one to revive the company unacceptable, say employees of the Public Sector Unit

A VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme) package for the employees of Hindustan Photo Films Mfg. Co. Ltd, Udhagamandalam, is being prepared by the Department of Heavy Industry.

While an official release on Minister of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises Praful Patel’s reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday did not mention whether the VRS meant closure of the sick PSU, a few HPF employees told The Hindu that any proposal other than one to revive the company was unacceptable.

The Minister said the company was declared sick by BIFR (Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction) in January 1996, but had not yet closed. A CCEA note for revival of HPF was submitted to Cabinet Secretariat in July last year. It was discussed at the CCEA meeting on August 23, 2012, and withdrawn. It was decided to rework an attractive VRS package, the release on Mr. Patel’s reply said.

The VRS proposal, members of the ‘Save H.P.F Committee’, a body comprising different trade unions and officer’s associations said, would be a step towards closing down the Central PSU. The company, much of whose operations are in The Nilgiris District, was popular for its INDU brand products. It manufactured medical x-ray, industrial x-ray and graphic art films besides processing chemicals.

HPF could be revived, they said, adding that a huge market for its products existed. Moreover, it was necessary to keep the company running as a measure to keep the cost of x-ray films low.

Mr. Patel said the Department of Heavy Industry would place the package for approval before the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. The release, however, did not mention a timeframe.

Members of the Save H.P.F Committee said the government while coming with a VRS package a few years ago said the benefits would be worked out on the 2007 salary levels. It would be low, they said, while pointing 250 of the 750 odd employees still had more than 10 years of service left. Work at the units, which include one at Ambattur in Chennai, remains halted for at least six months now, for want of working capital. According to employees’ estimate, around Rs.70 crore is needed to get the units running.

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