Talks fail to convince NLC trade unions

Special Correspondent
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NLC employees wearing demand badges at their worksite at Neyveli on Thursday.
NLC employees wearing demand badges at their worksite at Neyveli on Thursday.

Tripartite talks held to convince the trade unions of Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) to withdraw their notice for an indefinite strike against the Centre’s move to disinvest in the Navaratna public sector undertaking ended in a stalemate on Thursday.

The Joint Action Committee of trade unions also rejected Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s suggestion that the Centre could offer five per cent of its shares proposed to be disinvested to State government undertakings.

The talks were held at the office of Assistant Labour Commissioner (ALC) S. Sivarajan in Puducherry as a sequel to the “intimation letter” given by trade unions to the NLC management expressing their resolve to go on an indefinite strike from July 3 till the Centre dropped the disinvestment move.

Rama. Udayakumar, secretary of Anna Workers’ and Staff Union, said that the ALC put across the view that the disinvestment move was an act of the Centre. Since NLC was a public sector undertaking, the trade unions should give up their strike move in the interest of maintaining industrial peace.

But, trade union leaders told the ALC that they would not retrace their steps but go ahead with the strike. As the first phase of the stir had already begun on Thursday with employees wearing black badges, the talks ended in a deadlock. Gate meetings will be held on Friday and Saturday, followed by a day’s fast on July 2.

‘No’ to Chief Minister’s proposal

The idea of Ms. Jayalalithaa that State government-run organisations would pick up the stakes if the Centre was keen on offloading five per cent of NLC shares did not find favour with the JAC, officials and contract workmen.

JAC convener S. Rajavanniyan said that the Chief Minister had all along been opposing the disinvestment and written two letters, on May 23 and June 22, to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh requesting him to drop the move.

In a statement released on behalf of the JAC, he pointed out that the Chief Minister had even suggested alternatives to scuttle the move. But, all of a sudden, she had turned course and come up with the suggestion that if the Centre could not do without divestment it could make the shares available to State undertakings such as Tamil Nadu Small Industries Development Corporation, State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu and Tamil Nadu Industrial Investment Corporation.

Mr. Rajavanniyan noted that the latest stand of the Chief Minister had confounded the constituents of the JAC and it was not acceptable. He recalled that the decision taken by trade unions owing allegiance to all political parties on June 24 was unanimous.

He told reporters that the JAC is determined to oppose the very principle of divestment of NLC shares. The JAC would remain unswerving in its stand as in 2002 and 2006 when disinvestment proposals cropped up. It had turned down the suggestion of the then Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi, that employees could pick up the 10 per cent shares that were on offer in 2006.



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