Regional Labour Commissioner SK Mohanty on Monday convened a conciliation meeting with Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited(RINL), the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), and five works unions, which served an indefinite strike notice protesting against the Centre’s move to privatize the plant. He said the meeting was convened following a request made by RINL to advise the unions to refrain from going on strike after March 25. Leaders of Steel Plant Employees Union (CITU), Visakha Steel Workers Congress (INTUC), Visakha Steel Workers Union (AITUC), Visakha Ukku Shramik Sangh (TNTUC) and United Steel Employees Union (CFTUI) attended the meeting.
The Unions served the strike notice demanding the repeal of the plan for 100 per cent strategic sale of the steel plant, the abolition of the inter-secretaries group constituted to study the strategic sale and the MoU signed with POSCO for a joint venture for the construction of an integrated steel plant. The Unions also demanded permanent jobs for all Rehabilitation Cardholders and suspension of the recent MoU signed with National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) for redevelopment and monetization of land parcels at Maddilapalem.
RINL representatives K Srinivasa Rao and K Sanjeeva Rao, GMs (HR), informed that all the issues, except the provision of employment to the displaced persons, raised by the unions are not under the purview of RINL. They said 50 per cent of posts in the recruitment of non-executive trainees are earmarked for displaced persons. However, the unions disapproved of the claim of the management at the meeting. They said the RINL CMD and the Director (Finance) are members of the inter-secretaries group formed to study the sale of VSP and raised objection to the MoU signed between RINL and POSCO. The MoU with the NBCC was also signed by the RINL management, they said.
The Labour Commissioner said there is still scope for bilateral talks on some demands of the unions. He advised the RINL management to hold bilateral talks to resolve the issues with the workers’ unions amicably. He also advised the unions to submit their justifications for opposing the VSP privatization. He appealed to the unions to refrain from going on strike in the larger interests of RINL. “Depending on the outcome of the bilateral talks, the next conciliation meeting will be held,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Centre reiterated that it going ahead with a 100 per cent strategic sale of RINL. “An inter-ministerial group has been formed to work out modalities in this regard,” said Union Minister of State Finance Anurag Thakur. Replying to a query by YSRCP MP Sanjeev Kumar Singari in the Lok Sabha on Monday, he said the Centre has accorded ‘in-principle’ approval for 100 per cent disinvestment of the government stake in RINL, along with RINL’s stake in its subsidiaries / joint ventures by way of privatization.
On the option of No Objection Certificate from the AP government for the sale of VSP land, he said the ownership of the land acquired/transferred to RINL vests with the Centre. “While finalizing the structure of the transaction, due consideration will be made for hiving off surplus non-core land and assets,” he said. Anurag Thakur said the State was consulted in specific matters as and when needed and its support is also solicited in the matters that require its intervention.