Protests over EICL decision to shut down

The protest outside the EICL gate on Monday.

The protest outside the EICL gate on Monday.  


English Indian Clays suspends operations citing shortage and exorbitant cost of raw material

Hundreds of employees of English Indian Clays Ltd (EICL) are facing an uncertain future with the company suspending operations citing shortage and exorbitant cost of raw material.

While the company management has described the work stoppage as ‘temporary,’ employees’ unions have accused it of resorting to a cheap ploy to avoid a long-pending pay revision.

On Monday in Kochuveli, protests by INTUC, CITU and BMS-affiliated EICL employees’ unions under the banner of a joint action council entered the third day outside the locked EICL main gate.

The unions are demanding urgent government intervention in the matter, calling the management’s action illegal and damaging to the reputation of the private company.

The shutters were downed on November 30 even as the unions were planning an indefinite strike from December 11 demanding pay revision.

Yellow board

On Monday, a small yellow board stuck on the gate by the protesters read, “EICL managementinte samaram - Moonnaam divasam' (Strike by EICL Management - Third day).

“That is the fact of the matter. We are not striking work, they are. The action is totally unwarranted. This is a pressure tactic to make the employees relent to their demands,’’ D. Sudarsan, vice president, District Clay Workers' Union (CITU), said.

On November 30, the employees were informed through a tersely-worded notice that operations were being halted ‘temporarily’ and that they need not report for work. Once the company decides to restart the operations, they would be informed about resumption of duties. The employees would not be entitled to salary or other benefits during this period, it said.

EICL’s captive mines in Thonnackal had ceased operations following a court order some months ago. The monthly raw material requirement, according to the EICL management, is approximately 70,000 tonnes. The company had been incurring a loss by continuing production using costly raw material procured from Gujarat and elsewhere. However, the situation has reached a juncture where it cannot be sustained, it said.

Now part of the Karan Thapar Group of Companies, EICL mines kaolin deposits in the district and has two facilities - the main plant at Kochuveli and a second one at Thonnackal - for processing the clay. The company has approximately 1,500 employees, including around 400 permanent staff. According to the unions, the salary revision has been pending for 37 months, since September 30, 2016, when the term of the previous Long-Term Agreement (LTA) ended.

According to the unions, they had organised a 24-hour token strike on November 29 protesting the management stance on pay revision. “The company is in profit and still the management is reluctant to implement the revision. The Additional Labour Commissioner had convened discussions between the trade unions and the management, but the latter has not signed the LTA,”' alleged A. Jalajan, vice president of the BMS-backed EIC Mazdoor Sangh.


“'The salary for the month of November also is pending,” alleged Ajith Kumar, vice president, District Clay Workers' Congress (INTUC).

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 1:54:59 AM |

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