People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 26, 2004
AFTER two years of 67 days strike in Balco, there was total one-day strike on July 22, 2004. The 67 days strike was against privatisation and this time strike was against the sale of 49 per cent share by central government. The 67 days strike was withdrawn due to the betrayal of INTUC leadership and also of the Chhattisgarh state government. The strike call was given by same BALCO Bachao Abhiyabn Samiti, which gave call and led the 67 days strike excluding INTUC. This time CITU, AITUC, BMS and HMS are in the BALCO Bachao Abhiyan Samiti.
INTUC’s explanation is that they are not concerned about selling of 49 per
cent share but as per their assertion they are more interested that 5 per cent
share should be sold to the workers. The INTUC openly opposed the strike, issued
a leaflet and made mike propaganda against the strike.
time there was no picketing as the workers on their own did not go for duty. The
contractor workers also went on strike. The CITU played the leading role in
organising the leaders and cadres and we were in the forefront.
privatisation the condition of the workers has been deteriorating day by day and
the number of workers is decreasing. Table 1 given below indicates the same.
2001-02 to 2003-04)
Recruits Retirement etc
In BALCO there is 150-bedded Hospital with all facilities. After privatisation, majority of doctors either resigned or have taken VRS. Now doctors are appointed on ad hoc basis. Even nurses are appointed on ad hoc basis. Medicines are not available in the hospital.
of women workers on compassionate ground has been stopped. Women workers
appointed before privatisation on compassionate ground were given work in those
places, where skill and training is required. Now, they have been asked to
operate overhead crane without proper training. There is a possibility of
is no maintenance of quarters. The workers are suffering from fear psychology.
There is no job security. There are a number of private schools in BALCO
township which used to get aid from BALCO. That is now stopped. Schools have
thus increased the fees, which is a burden on the workers.
Sterlite management has started construction of a new power plant and smelter.
There are 6000 contract workers from different states like Tamilnadu, West
Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, and Rajasthan. The contractors are also from these
states. These workers are brought in groups from their native places by the
contractors or their men and keep them in camps. Workers are not allowed to go
anywhere except place of work, just like bonded labour.
local workers are not recruited. Even contractors are not from local areas. The
thinking of the Sterlite management is that if local workers are recruited, they
may get organised and workers movements may start.
laws are openly violated. Minimum wage is not paid. Safety norms are not
followed. Except helmet and shoes no other safety appliance is given. There were
four fatal accidents. In first accident 7 workers died. But nobody knows what
happened to the dead bodies. Whether compensation has been paid is also not
known. There was another accident and 3 workers died. The CITU Union intervened
and did not allow to take out the dead bodies unless compensation was paid.
Ultimately the management agreed to pay compensation.
accident took place where 4 workers died. This is the condition of contract
workers. There are no safety norms, no minimum wage, no labour laws; just like
bonded labour these workers have to work. The CITU is in forefront of the
movement. There were two strikes of contractor workers led by the CITU union.
The first strike was on February 24, and the second 3 day strike from July 1 to
3, 2004 on 19-point demands. Both the strikes took place at the call of CITU and
demands were settled. Recently on August 14, 2004 one more accident took place
in which a contractor worker died by getting crushed in the generator. It is to
be noted that all the victims of accidents were contractor workers.
the time of selling of BALCO to Sterlite, there was a shareholder agreement. In
that agreement there is a part concerning workers. There has been open violation
of this part of agreement.
The details in respects of violation of shareholder agreement are provided in the annexure enclosed. After the sale of BALCO there were many complaints regarding violation of shareholder agreement. The NDA government appointed a committee for disinvestment. Review committee consisting of Hansu Bhai Dave, general secretary, BMS, Disinvestment Secretary and Labour Secretary was constituted to review the condition of BALCO after disinvestment. Hansubhai Dave was made the chairman of the committee. This committee has not submitted its report till this date. This shows the sincerity of the NDA government to review the disinvestment of BALCO.
is a captive thermal plant for BALCO, which was run by NTPC, Korba unit. The
NTPC decided to leave the management of this captive thermal plant and handed it
over to BALCO. All the employees whose service condition was governed by the
NTPC rules suddenly became the employees of BALCO. These workers have lost their
seniority and got the new appointment. The Sterlite got this plant free, as it
has not paid anything. Now another thermal plant is under construction. The aim
of Sterlite management seems to be to sell the BALCO’s captive thermal power
station which was earlier under NTPC. The workers of this plant will suffer a
loss on account of this deal.
is the condition of BLACO after privatisation. This industrial unit was earlier
making profit. The workers had played a major role in running the plant on
profit. Now their condition is worsening day by day. The management wants to
remove all permanent workers and recruit new workers as trainees. The main
concern of the workers is that government should not handover 49 per cent share
to Sterlite, and initiate an enquiry on the functioning of BALCO. Having great
faith in the CITU, CPI(M) and other Left parties, the workers expect that the
CPI(M) and Left parties would pressurise the government for initiating an
enquiry in BALCO.
of the Agreement
with laws: In
carrying out the allegations specified herein the parties shall comply with all
Factories Act. (a)
Denial of overtime at double hour payment basis as stipulated in the Clause
59 of the Act.
Detaining women employees at work after the sunset against clause 66 (b) of the
Operating the factories without qualified safety and welfare officers. Factories
do not have a even qualified fire officer.
Contract Labour Regulation and Abolition Act: Minimum
wages, overtime and other benefits not being given to the contract workers.
Laws: Started setting up the
plant at Korba and Lanijigarh without proper clearance from the ministry of
Forest Conservation Act: Indulgence
in indiscriminate felling of trees without proper authorisation from the Forest
Department. A police case has also been registered at Jamnipali.
Motor Vehicle Act: In
contravention to the Act trucks overloaded with bauxite are being plied with
Registered Agreement with the Recognised Union:
(a) Appointment on compassionate grounds stopped. (b) Appointment of B.
Sc. trainees on posts other than the intake point. (c) Pay structure of
unionised employees adhered by merging DA.
Pay Commission: (a) Age
of retirement reduced for a section of the employees i.e. the executives and the
officers. (b) The pay structure and other packages like LTC etc. of the
executive and officers changed.
Apprenticeship Act: (a) No
apprentice inducted. (b) Apprentices trained at BALCO not considered for
employment in the company.
Workmen Compensation Act: Compensation
not being given as per provisions of the Act.
on Transfer of Shares:
Except as expressed by provision of this agreement or as may be unanimously
agreed there shall not, for a period of 3 years from the closing, directly or
indirectly, sale or transfer assignment charge, mortgage in other ways to
dispose off or incumbency. Such, a “transfer” or any purchase of share or
the legal or the beneficial owning purchase of share or any of the rights,
litigations incur this agreement invalid.
of Violation: 75
per cent shares of this company were first given to M/s Sterlite Copper and then
to Twinstar Company. Finally, it has been made a part of Vedanta Resources - a
London based organisation.
No. 7.2 (e)
of the Agreement: Notwithstanding
anything opened to the contrary in this agreement shall not retrench any part of
labour force of the company for a period of one year from the closing other than
dismissal or termination of employees of the company from their employment in
accordance with the application of regulations any standing order of the company
or applicable laws.
of Violation: Contract
workers have been retrenched in the very first year.
No. 7.2 (f)
of the Agreement: Notwithstanding
anything opened to the contrary in this agreement subject to clause(e) above,
any restructuring of labour force of the company shall be in the manner
recommended by the board and in accordance with the applicable laws.
Labour engaged in the Profile & Tube Ship and Bidhan Bag Unit have been
placed in other units at Korba without any formal training etc.
BALCO employees transferred to other units of Sterlite without any deputation
Almost entire workforce of all the regional offices & Head Office and the
Bidhan Bag Unit have been transferred to Korba and kept without work. Thus
humiliated, harassed, ignored and unwanted persons left the company on VR on
terms inferior to the one offered by the company and referred to in the Schedule
7.4 of the Shares Purchase Agreement..
BALCO’s employees have been kept without any work, marginalised, side tracked
and even made to leave the company on VR etc and outsiders without any
experience have been brought in at better conditions of employment higher salary
and better perks etc.
No. 7.2 (g)
of the Agreement: Not
withstanding anything contained to the contrary in this agreement, but subject
to sub-clause (e) above, in the event of reduction of strength of the
company’s employees the SP shall ensure that the Company offers its employees
an option to voluntarily retire on terms not, in any manner, less favourable
than the Voluntary Retirement Scheme offered by the Company which is referred to
in the schedule 7.4 of the Shares Purchase Agreement.
Offered a VR Scheme inferior to the one in vogue; payment of ex gratia was
distributed in 5 to 8 instalments.
In the name of offering VRS, the SP had adopted a mechanism to force the
employees to leave the company by opting for VR, even though inferior to the
scheme in vogue.
To reduce employees strength the company humiliated, harassed, ignored, insulted
and discriminated BALCO employees so that their old company became a hostile
place to stay any further.
reduce manpower it has even obtained resignation virtually on gunpoint. Instance
of SB Lodh, Fire Officer is illustrative of this. He was manhandled in the
presence of vice president and threatened to be implicated in a police case for
riotous behaviour in the office of a senior executive of the company. This
happened on the same day Lodh submitted his application for VR. Similarly, other
employees were made to resign by creating humiliating conditions some of the
people who have been victimised are Thomas of Purchase Department, S Basu, GM
(Marketing-Korba), Khundia, GM (Marketing, Delhi), Akhtar Hussain, DGM (Mines),
Gautam Mazumdar, GM (Fabrication).