ANDHRA PRADESH

1,200 SCCL employees to be given `golden handshake' today

KOTHAGUDEM Jan. 31. The stage has been set for the implementation of the second phase of the `golden handshake' in the Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL). In all, 1200 coal workers will collect their last pay packet before making their final exit on Friday. A majority of the workers leaving the company are coal fillers, coal cutters, timbermen, linemen and general mazdoors, all over 50 years of age.

This is being viewed as a major step in the direction of downsizing the workforce. In all, 88 categories of workers were found surplus and they were offered the `golden handshake.' Out of 4850 workers who had applied for the `golden handshake', 1626 were relieved on January 10 last. Some more workers would go in the third phase of the programme on March 1.

The company is planning for engaging machinery to make up for the loss of production on account of the exit of the workers. The mining supervisory staff who had undergone the specialized training would be retained in service as the company cannot afford to relieve them at this juncture. Even after the exit of all those who opted for golden handshake, the company would be left with a surplus of 3000 more workers in different categories, according to officials. The surplus owed mainly to the closure of five underground mines scheduled to be effected in the next few weeks.

Mining operations will come to a close soon in RK-1 and RK-3 in Ramakrishnapuram, Somugudem - 3 of Mandamari, MVK -1 of Bellampalli and JK-C block in Yellandu. The surplus staff would be accommodated mainly in areas to which the mining operations were being extended newly. Bhupalapalli is one of the favourite destinations for surplus workers.

The company would have been able to accommodate the surplus in the case of opening new projects. But no major project could be opened. The 16 per cent internal rate of returns being insisted for the new projects could hardly be met in the present conditions. The company had seen rapid expansion after 1981. Accordingly, it could create maximum employment potential in the 80s. The company is in need of mobilizing about Rs 200 crores for payment of ex-gratia to workers who had availed of golden handshake. This is to be paid in addition to all other terminal benefits they are entitled for. The ex-gratia would be ranging from Rs 3 lakhs to Rs 5 lakgs depending on their service and nature of employment.

Those who are availing of the golden handshake would be paid Rs 8 lakhs to Rs 9 lakhs for opting out of service. The company which had started the downsizing process is in no mood for providing employment to the 2800 VRS dependents. They have been fighting for jobs as their parents opted for retirement in their favour. They are on relay fast for the past 209 days.

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