Contract labours stage aggressive agitation at Equipment Square

Road towards Main Gate blocked for hours
Employees take other routes to reach work place

Central Chronicle News
Bhilai, May 25:
On Saturday, pressing a charter of seven demands, the contract labours of Bhilai Steel Plant staged aggressive demonstration under the banner of Hindustan Ispat Theka Shramik Union (CITU). A general meeting was conducted at the Equipment Square at around 08:00 hrs which was attended by contract labours and regular employees in large number. It needs to be mentioned here that the goons of a contractor had attacked the union leader Yogesh Soni on May 07.
The district police took the matter into serious cognizance and the attackers as well as the people behind this conspiracy were arrested. Surprisingly, the BSP management did not take any action against the contractor. Irked over management’s attitude, the labours staged demonstration and blocked the entire square. Police team reached the spot and tried to diffuse the tension. Finding no other alternative, traffic was diverted to other routes.
The employees of Bhilai Steel Plant who were willing to cross the square to enter the plant from Main gate, were stopped by the demonstrators. Some of the employees took u-turn and proceeded towards the Boria Gate while some others took a nearby kuchcha road to reach the Main Gate.
Considering the tense situation, officials of Industrial Relations Department reached the spot and asked the demonstrators to leave the road. The IR officials even warned the demonstrators of lodging FIR against them but the demonstrators remained adamant and continued to stage road blockade. The labours stated that this situation would have not come if the management had taken action against the contractors, those who are involved in corrupt practices. Later, a delegation of demonstrators was invited for talks during which the management accepted some of the demands and assured to take appropriate steps. CPI (M) State Secretary Sanjay Parate, MS Shant Kumar and CITU General Secretary DVS Reddy addressed the gathering.
The union leaders stated that management had assured to Blacklist the contractor ‘Sudhanshu Brothers’ who conspired the attack on union leader but instead of taking action against him, the management has awarded him a new contract. During the meeting with management officials, union leaders questioned why the management was mum over repeated complaints of irregularities in wages, PF deduction, ESI and exploitation of labours.
During the demonstration, the contract labours informed that if they demand their rights, the contractors apply all possible tactics to suppress them. The labours are even illegally retrenched if they ask for their rights. They alleged that the management was equally responsible for exploitation.
The management assured to resolve all the issues within a week. IR Chief Suraj Soni, Contract Cell officials, Union leaders Yogesh Soni, Jamil Ahmad, Prashant Vishwakarma, Baijnath and 25 other contract labours were present during this meeting. The management informed that the procedure has been launched to blacklist the contractor Sudhanshu Brothers and soon this firm will be declared blacklisted. They further assured that the contract will not get any new contract. The union leaders provided a list of ten contractors who are not providing salary slips to the contractors. The IR officials assured that wage slips will be provided to the labours of these contractors. It was further assured that steps will be taken to discontinue the system of reverse auction and action will be taken over irregularities in PF and ESI.
The union leaders further demanded to ensure “equal pay fro equal work”. They stated that a regular crane operator gets around Rs 1500 per day wages while a contract labour gets only around Rs 200 to 250. Similarly, a regular Loco Pilot gets monthly salary of around Rs 50000 while a contract loco pilot gets only Rs 10000 as monthly wages. The union leaders asserted that due to corruption and unfair practices, the labours have been dragged to suffering end. The union will continue to struggle for the rights of labours, they added.

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