NLC talks inconclusive, strike continues

CUDDALORE, MAY 20. The ``work to rule'' agitation by the employees of Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) entered the fourth day today, with the talks between the NLC executives and trade union representatives being inconclusive. Talks which commenced around were being carried on with intermittent breaks though no settlement was in sight.

The employees launched the stir on Thursday last demanding wage revision, due since 1997. Last revision was effected in 1992. Lignite excavation and consequent power generation was reduced by fifty per cent of the normal capacity four days ago and according to NLC sources, the fall in production registered a status quo even today.

The sources said against the installed capacity of 2,070 MW,- including 600 MW from the first thermal power station and 1,470 MW from the second station-the generation was 1,050 MW.

There was a fall in the plant load factor (PLF), a technical indicator for the utilisation of the power generating capacitance. From about 80 to 85 on Wednesday last, the PLF statistics stood at around 50 per cent, according to the NLC sources.

Differences over payment of certain perks and allowances between the workers and executives is stated to be the reason for the stalemate. The employees representatives were insisting on payment of certain allowances available in the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL). But the NLC authorities have turned down the comparison on the ground that NLC was paying off certain other allowances and incurring expenditure on basic facilities like education, not available in other units including BHEL.

Meanwhile, the employees have threatened to launch an indefinite strike from Monday, if no feasible solution is arrived at. The NLC has constituted a bipartite committee, comprising NLC executives and trade union representatives for holding talks.

The Director, Personnel NLC, Mr. R. Narasimhan, said the talks would continue on Monday also.

Our Chennai Special Correspondent reports:

Meanwhile, the TNEB chairman, Mr. R. Poornalingam, said the TNEB had taken up the issue with the Chairman of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation and the Additional Secretary in the Union Ministry of Coal. Both had assured the TNEB that the dispute would be resolved in a few days and normality would be restored.

The TNEB Chairman also clarified that there was no constraint on the Board to purchase power from other States to make up for the shortage of supply from NLC. ``However, the problem is that this kind of power is not available anywhere in the country since almost all the electricity boards are having a shortage of power on account of summer. Further, nobody will be willing to give power for a short duration,'' he said.