July 04, 2021

Steel Workers Lauded for Magnificent Strike

THE Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and the Steel Workers’ Federation of India (SWFI), in a statement issued on June 30, have congratulated and saluted the steel workers of the public sector steel industry for the massive united strike action. The strike was held protesting against the arrogant and humiliating stance of the management and the concerned ministry towards the legitimate rights and demands of the workers.

The workers of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant staged strike on June 29 and the workers of plants, mines and establishment of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) staged an almost complete strike on June 30, as decided by all the unions of the public sector steel industry under SAIL and RINL Visakhapatnam.

They pressed for their firm demands for a respectable wage revision for both permanent and contract workers without any conditionalities. Among more than 1.5 lakh workers including the contract workers and project workers spread over in all the steel plants, mines and establishments under SAIL and RINL, the response to strike action was massive ranging from 70 per cent to 95 per cent in various steel plants, mines and establishments. 

The CITU said that owing to arrogance and brazenly anti-worker approach of the government and the management, wage revision was delayed for more than four and half years. And when bipartite talks at the level of National Joint Committee for Steel (NJCS) commenced after 52 months, the management started with all negative conditionalities of cut on wages and benefits instead of wage increase.

“Despite that, all the unions exercised tremendous patience and participated in the negotiations with the management. But owing to the continuity of the same arrogance of the management for more than six months (in various meetings of NJCS), ultimately all the unions in the public sector steel industry collectively decided to go in for strike action on June 30 and on June 29 in Vizag,” CITU said.

It is the same steel workers that have still kept the steel plants and mines running, risking their lives in the midst of the pandemic and the lockdown. More than 600 workers and officers, all on duty, have lost their lives due to Covid and the number crossed 1,000, if the family members are taken into account, the union said.

“Despite that, the management did not show the courtesy even to respond, either way, to the repeated demands of the unions for compensation and compassionate employment. Such is the arrogance of the management,” the union reiterated.

The CITU and the SWFI said that this historical and heroic strike by the steel workers, despite various provocations by the management, demonstrated that workers cannot be taken for granted. They said that this has become a united strike action by the entire steel workers fraternity to challenge the authoritarian and unilateral stance of the management and the government.

CITU appealed to all the unions and workers to strengthen this unity further to fight for a respectable wage settlement without any negative preconditions. It also called upon the workers to fight against the onslaught of privatisation, Raw Materials Division (RMD) dismantling and attack on workers’ rights emanating from the destructive policies of the government.