With almost empty order book, the employees’ morale is at a low ebb

There is no celebration in Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) even as it completes third year of its takeover by Ministry of Defence from the Ministry of Shipping on Friday.

With almost empty order book position and the euphoria over the prospects of getting big orders from MoD for building submarines, warships, and landing platform docks dying down soon, the employees’ morale is at a low ebb. The management also seems to be in a frustrated mood, which is evident from the Republic Day address of Rear Admiral N.K. Mishra, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of HSL.

He stated in his address: “We are sailing on a damaged vessel. If we do not repair it, then we will all sink with it.”

Three-year-long agonising wait has dampened the spirit of the employees.

The premier shipbuilding yard, set up in 1941, was converted into a ship repair facility during 1990s and could get full load of work with bulker deal it signed with Goodearth Maritime Limited. Now there is no major order on-hand.

Since the government directed it not to accept new order from anyone after the Centre took a decision to bring it under administrative control of MoD on February 8, 2008, it has not received a order for shipbuilding from the Navy as anticipated.

Sources told The Hindu that now the accumulated losses have jacked up to Rs.1,100 crore. This was pegged at below Rs.900 crore when Rear Admiral Ajit Tewari was the CMD.

Dejected at lack of lobbying to get orders, the workers are staging dharna daily at the in-gate since January 28.

“We are even planning for a relay hunger strike as the management is not taking up the need for getting orders with the authorities in Delhi,” said INTUC district president and general secretary of Hindustan Shipyard Staff & Workers’ Union G. Appa Rao.

Several representations have been made by the unions to MoD. When contacted, Union Minister of State for Commerce & Industry D. Purandeswari said she would continue her efforts to secure orders for HSL so as to boost the morale of the workforce.