R. Vimal Kumar

Tuticorin: The port employees here belonging to four workers’ federations on Tuesday decided to drop their indefinite strike plan, scheduled to begin from the early hours of Wednesday.

Speaking to The Hindu, Stephen Fernando, General Secretary, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, said that the decision was taken following the assurances from the Union Minister of Shipping, T.R. Baalu, on Monday and from the Labour Ministry officials on Tuesday, that the workers’ charter of demands would be met.

Accordingly, interim relief at the rate of 13.5 per cent of the basic pay prior to pay revision, merger of 50 per cent of dearness allowance with the basic pay and balance amount of Productivity Linked Bonus (PLB) after the raising of ceiling from Rs.2,500 to Rs.3,500, all with retrospective dates, would be paid within a month to all employees. Though the workers had demanded merger of DA with the basic pay with effect from January 1, 2005, in their strike notice, the Ministry of Shipping had decided to amalgamate it only from January 1, 2007.

Regarding the interim wage relief, Mr. Baalu had agreed to disburse the ‘lump sum’ for a period starting January 1, 2007, and ending June 30 this year, within the next 30 days. Likewise, the remaining PLB would be given away for the 2005-06 fiscal. Mr. Fernando said the workers’ federations had been given an assurance by the Labour Ministry officials that the other demands that figured in the strike notice would be considered before December 31. The rest of the demands included implementation of Indian Port Associations’ recommendations on extension of medical benefits to retired workers on a par with the serving employees and cadre restructure of Class III and Class IV employees.