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Strike cloud on Iisco future

Burdwan, Nov. 13: An indefinite strike in three captive collieries in the Asansol area has dealt a body-blow to the Indian Iron and Steel Company, whose future is already grim with the company having been referred to the Board of Industrial Finance and Reconstruction.

The Citu-led unions, under the banner of the joint action committee, called the strike after talks with the deputy labour commissioner at Dhanbad on wage issues fell through yesterday. Meetings called by the Central labour commissioner today failed to break the deadlock.

The committee is demanding that wages of the 1,200 workers in the three captive mines at Ramnagar, Jitpur and Chasnala should be in line with the National Coal Wage Agreement implemented in Coal India mines.

Iisco’s blast furnace burns 1,600 tonnes of coal a day, and at that rate, the plant has two days’ stock left with it.

With Iisco gasping under an accumulated loss of Rs 1,000 crore and repeated denial of the lifeline of revival packages, a long-drawn strike and the resulting halt in its very low production does not augur well for the plant.

A senior Iisco official said under the law, there can be no wage agreement when a company is under the scrutiny of the BIFR, which it has been since 1995. “It is, therefore, not possible for us to sit down with the unions to negotiate a fresh wage agreement,” he said.

But Steel Authority of India Limited chairman V.S. Jain had said yesterday that the Iisco management has been asked to resolve the strike through dialogues.

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