Strike to affect power production at Neyveli Lignite

Chennai, July 4 (IANS) The strike at Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd. (NLC) by workers protesting the central government's decision to divest five percent stake in the company would lower power production from Friday, union leaders said Thursday.

Over 27,000 workers, regular and contractual, belonging to various unions struck work Wednesday night defying a Madras High Court ban order issued earlier in the day.

"The strike is progressing smoothly with resounding response from the workers. Maybe one percent of the total workforce would have reported for duty," R. Udayakumar, secretary of the AIADMK-affiliated Anna Workers and Staff Union, told IANS.

"The strike is progressing peacefully. Power generation will get impacted only from tomorrow (Friday) onwards," added S. Rajavannian, general secretary of the Labour Progressive Front, affiliated to the DMK.

Both the union officials estimate that around 200-300 MW power generation would be impacted Friday.

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

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

A conciliation meeting between the unions and the management has been fixed Friday at Puducherry.

"Though the strike is not connected with any worker/labour problem, a conciliation meeting with the management is slated for Friday at Puducherry," Udayakumar said.

He said the representatives of the unions will attend the meeting.

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.

DMK president M. Karunanidhi in a letter to United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi has urged her to impress upon the government to revoke its disinvestment decision.

A copy of the letter has been marked to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.

Meanwhile, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) in a statement congratulated the NLC workers and their unions for their strike against the Centre's decision.

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