Contractual workers’ agitation hit Durgapur project

Coke Oven at Durgapur Project Limited

Agitation by contractual workers engaged for coal unloading job with the state run power utility company Durgapur Project Limited (DPL) caused DPL to incur demurrage. INTUC affiliated unloading staffs stranded a coal-loaded rake of railway wagon since midnight till yesterday afternoon; DPL authority finally had to unload by using mechanized system.

The agitating contractual workers alleged: “A section of senior DPL staff were hand in glove with the contractor agency engaged for coal unloading from the railway rakes and as a result the labourers are being compelled to shoulder the job though the wage agreement has elapsed a month ago.”

Coke Oven at Durgapur Project Limited

Also, the DPL’s fresh work order issued in favour of an agency has asked to reduce the strength of unloading labourers to 80 from the existing 119 heads. The fresh work order was issued to help unloading an average of 450 wagons every month between 1 February 2014 and 31 January 2015. The odd 119 labourers had been shouldering the job of unloading the wagons since 1979. This sudden decision of DPL authority is seen as an unwanted interference by the company as the number of contractual workers to be employed for unloading job is not a matter of concern for DPL.

According to Mr Dibyendu Banerjee, secretary of the INTUC affiliated contract labourer’s union: “It is up to the contractor concerned to decide the number of labourers required to ensure smooth unloading and since 35 years it has been a practice here. The DPL authority, with no sufficient reason behind, has asked the contractor to slash the man-power, which we won’t accept.”

The same contractual labourers had detained three rakes for three days since 5 January, which had hit the DPL exchequer as the state owned unit had to incur railway demurrage amounting to Rs 3.5 lakh (after adjustment with the Asansol Division of the Indian Railways).

The railway authorities provides rakes for transportation of coal to DPL for conversion to coke and one rake is given eight hours of time for unloading. “After every additional hour of detention, we charge Rs 150 per wagon per hour as demurrage,” said a senior official with the Asansol Division of the Eastern Railway today.

The rake that had entered DPL last midnight left the plant at around 4 p.m., causing eight hours of demurrage charge.

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