Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The Arakkonam plant of MRF, under lock-out since May 17, has reopened. The lock-out, according to a company release, followed a sit- in strike by a small group of dissident workers. The management, the release said, lifted the lock-out from the first shift of May 27. About 1,000 workmen reported for work on the first shift, the release said. The recognised MRF Arakkonam Workers’ Welfare Union, after a prolonged bilateral discussion with the MRF management, signed a settlement on May 9.

The settlement envisaged substantial benefits to the workmen, including increases in house rent allowance, washing allowance, attendance allowance, shift allowance and conveyance allowance. With this settlement, the release said, some of the employees would receive up to Rs. 5,000 as increase in their total monthly pay packet. Many of the long- pending issues were also sorted out. Each workman also received an ad-hoc payment of Rs. 15,000 as agreement benefit. The retirement age, which was earlier 55, had now been increased to 58 years, the release pointed out.

The problem arose since a group of dissident workmen decided to scuttle the MRF Arakkonam Workers’ Welfare Union from signing the agreement with the management, the release said. The Arakkonam factory would return to full level of operations in the next few days.