Madras High Court restraint order on Neyveli Lignite strike

Chennai, July 3 (IANS) The Madras High Court Wednesday restrained the unions at Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd (NLC) from striking work. Meanwhile, the unions are in discussions to take stock of the situation and chart a course of action.

Hearing a petition filed by NLC seeking orders against the proposed strike, the court restrained the unions from going on strike.

Reacting to the order, R. Udayakumar, secretary of the AIADMK-affiliated Anna Workers and Staff Union, told IANS: “We will take a decision after discussing the matter with other unions.”

Neyveli is around 210 km from state capital Chennai.

“If the workers go on strike, they will be committing contempt of court. We hope the unions would not violate the court order. We expect the people to attend to their duties in the third shift,” a senior NLC official told IANS, preferring anonymity.

He said even if the workers go on strike, the company has contingency plans to operate the power plants.

However he could not put a number as to the power capacity NLC would be able to generate if the workers strike work.

Earlier, workers and executives at the lignite mining-cum-power generation company NLC were gearing up to strike work Wednesday third shift onwards, protesting the centre’s move to divest five percent of its stake in the company.

“We will be going on strike from 10 p.m. onwards today (Wednesday),” Udayakumar said.

Udayakumar said even contract workers, numbering around 11,000, would strike work, crippling power generation.

The NLC has 2,490 MW capacity at Neyveli and another 250 MW at Barsingsar in Rajasthan.

According to Udayakumar, the boilers will be slowly shut down, reducing the lignite load and they cannot be shut down abruptly.

“Some executives will be on duty till the plant is safely shut down. It may take around two days for the entire plant to shut down,” he added.

He said around 1,300 MW of power is supplied to Tamil Nadu out of NLC and if they go on strike, the power supply will be affected.

Opposing the centre’s move to disinvest, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a letter that any proposal to shed even a small portion of the share-holding will lead to considerable labour unrest, and any disruption of power supply from NLC would affect Tamil Nadu, which is already suffering acute power shortage.

She also suggested to the central government that it divest five percent stake in NLC to state government undertakings.

Jayalalithaa also said the central government should not resort to disinvestment under the “offer for sale” route, through which share sale can be executed at a day’s notice, as it would exacerbate the law and order situation in the state.

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