Staff Reporter

‘Write off HMT's debt of Rs.1,391 crore'

‘Set up a professional management system'

KOCHI: The employees of the HMT Ltd. will take out a march to Parliament on Friday, seeking rejuvenation of the public sector company. As per the decision by the agitation committee in New Delhi recently, 125 employees from the Kalamassery unit of the HMT will leave on Thursday for taking part in the march, K. Chandran Pillai, general secretary of the HMT Employees Union (CITU), said on Wednesday.

About 2,500 HMT employees, accounting for about 32 percent of the total workforce of the HMT, from across the country would participate in the march, Mr. Pillai said. The main demands of the protesters include maintenance of HMT in the public sector, implementation of both the pay revision pending since 1997 and the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Labour, reinstatement of the pension age as 60 and carrying out fresh appointments. The trade union representatives said the Union Minister for Heavy Industries Vilas Rao Deshmukh had taken a favourable approach during their meeting with him last month. The Minister, they said, had assured to keep HMT in the public sector and not to close down any units of the company.

The Minister had, reportedly, also assured that a supplementary package for pay revision and reinstatement of the pension age as 60 would be submitted for the approval of the Finance Ministry shortly. The trade union leaders also said that the Minister had adopted a favourable approach towards their demand to either write off HMT's debt of Rs.1,391 crore and the interest of Rs.195 crore or to convert it into government equity shares to save the company. They also demanded a professional management system for the enterprise. Later, led by the Union Minister of State for Agriculture K.V. Thomas, they met the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi for her intervention.