The tripartite meeting in progress at Bokaro circuit house on Friday night. Picture by Pankaj Singh
Bokaro, Feb. 15: The politically backed, six-day-long economic blockade of the steel plant at Siyaljori was lifted early this morning after the management of Electrosteel agreed to four major demands of land protesters and, in return, extracted a “no strike” assurance from workers till the next one year.
Finally, around 2.40pm today, over 800 workers held hostage inside the plant by protesting crowds numbering over 2,500, were able to leave for their homes after a deal was thrashed out through the night in the presence of Chas SDO Sanjay Singh, DSP R.N. Sharma and company director R.S. Singh.
The protesters were represented by Nirsa MLA Arup Chatterjee and 12 local residents.
According to sources in the administration, five contentious issues were resolved after the 12-hour-long-meeting held at circuit house.
The company agreed to:
hire as contract labourers around 2,000 land losers in phases during the commissioning of the steel plant in six to 12 months
give immediate employment to 100 displaced people who had registered their land to Eelectrosteel Casting Ltd
review all criminal cases lodged against local villagers and the displaced during protests
set up a committee chaired by Bokaro deputy commissioner to revise salaries.
Also, on a request by Chas SDO Sanjay Singh, the protesters, led by MLA Chatterjee, agreed to a resolution that workers would not resort to strikes for the next one year by which time the plant was expected to be commissioned.
Chattterjee dubbed the agreement a victory for the displaced and poor villagers.
Electrosteel director R.S Singh thanked the district administration in particular for its efforts to resolve the stalemate.
“We were always ready to agree to all the genuine demands and made the same commitment at the meeting,” he said, adding that the plant would need thousands of workers once full-fledged production began.
SDO Singh said that the displaced would have to understand that Electrsosteel would be able to pay its workers only if it was able to earn and not made to idle.
“The company, on the other hand, must keep in mind that land was the only revenue earning asset of farmers who had given it away for setting up the plant. Now they needed jobs to earn a livelihood,” he explained.