Strike at LPG bottling plant in Durgapur after retrenchment

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Pankaj Roy Sarkar and other CPI(M) Durgapur leaders talking with the striking contractual workers at the IOC's LPG bottling plant in Durgapur

Durgapur News Desk, 08 June 2017: In a rather drastic move, private contractors engaged by the Indian Oil Corporation bottling plant in Durgapur decided to retrench 85 labourers above 50 years of age. Protesting such an extreme move, contractual workers have started a cease-work yesterday and stopped other officials from entering the Durgapur-based IOC bottling plant that supplies cooking gas to seven south Bengal districts.

The bottling plant had a total of 112 contractual workers engaged in loading and unloading of cylinders. The workers, employed by 28 private contractors, had been observing a “go-slow” programme for the past four months, demanding a 30 per cent hike in their rates of 925 INR per truck being loaded.

After capacity augmentation, up to 160 trucks were loaded in January this year. Each trucks can accommodate 306 cylinders. From February, 180 trucks were supposed to be loaded. But the contractual workers started demanding a rate hike, as their cumulative workload increased; to which the private contractors paid no heed. The contractual workers then embarked on a ‘go slow’ programme since 18 February.

“We decided to retrench 85 of the 112 workers who are over 50 years of age to speed up work at the plant. We asked the plant management not to issue any gate passes to the 85 workers and gave them the list. We will engage young persons soon,” said Abhijit Konar, one of the 28 contractors engaged by the bottling plant.

It is feared that if the problem is not resolved and work doesn’t resume quickly then LPG cylinder supply to seven South Bengal districts – Burdwan West, Burdwan East, Birbhum, Bankura, Purulia, Hooghly and Murshidabad will face considerable difficulties in days to come.

A meeting has been held earlier in the presence of SDO Durgapur, Sankha Santra, but still the problem has not been resolved.

Though the contractual workers are not affiliated to any political organisation or trade unions, but the CPI(M) Durgapur 2 Zonal Committee Secretary Pankaj Roy Sarkar and several other prominent CITU leaders visited the IOC’s LPG bottling plant site and had a talk with the agitating contractual workers. After seeing the notice, based on which the above 50 year old workers were retrenched, Mr. Sarkar alleged that the notice is absolutely false as it does not contains any signature or seal. They assured the workers for all sorts of support and cooperation.

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