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Cement workers threaten stir

Special correspondent

Coimbatore: Various cement workers’ unions have served a strike notice on a private cement plant here following their decision to go in for an all-India strike on January 24.

According to a release from N. Thulasidas, vice-president, the National Cement Workers’ Union , this is in conformity with the declaration of the national convention of the All India Joint Action Forum of the Cement Workers’ Federation and Central Trade Unions in Delhi on December 8.

It pointed out that the national level tripartite five-year wage agreement for cement workers came into effect in 2005. When this was forged the cement companies had not been functioning well. “Now that the scenario has changed and the next accord could be forged only in 2010, the workers are justly demanding that that they are given a share in the phenomenal profit that the cement companies make”. The convention pointed out that the Cement Manufacturers’ Association (CMA) was yet to respond positively to the common demand of the workers for “ad hoc payment” of Rs. 60,000 per head (Rs. 1000 for 60 months).

Demand

It asserted that the demand was because of the “unprecedented turnover and super profits” made by the cement companies, including white cement, towards which the workers had made tremendous contribution

Hence, the declaration said that the workers would have no other alternative except going on a day’s general strike.

Besides, the convention noted that in violation of national agreement, the managements of some companies were refusing to implement the agreements in respect of contract workers “in letter and spirit”.

It lamented that the managements had been flouting the law of the land as well as Cement Arbitration Award in respect of contract workers and did not pay them the “equal wages for equal work”. It also noted with concern that the only central public sector cement company, Cement Corporation of India, was gradually getting closed while the cement industry as a whole was making profits.

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