Contract labourers run amok at Tata Steel gate

Written by fe Bureaus | Jamshedpur | Updated: Jun 30 2010, 04:51am hrs
Violence rocked Tata Steels plant here on Monday after hundreds of contract labourers, agitated over the alleged mishandling of their colleagues, ran amok and burnt around a dozen vehicles, including two belonging to the police, in front of one of the companys gates.

The problem began at the Sakchi gate, the entry to the companys works, on Sunday evening when

some genuine contractors labourers working for L&T were denied entry after an ID card sensor machine allegedly malfunctioned.

On Monday morning, the machine malfunctioned again, leading to a spat between the contract labourers and security men. This led to a scuffle where some labourers were allegedly manhandled. As news spread, hundreds of contract labourers began to swarm the gate, leading a scuffle with the police.

The irate labourers soon set on fire a dozen vehicles including two police jeeps, five private vehicles and half-a-dozen motor bikes parked near the gate. With the fire tenders arriving late, most of the vehicles were gutted.

Although several persons, including two police personnel, were injured during the incident which ran nearly for a couple of hours, four of them two contractors labourers and two security personnel of the company were taken to the Tata Main Hospital for treatment.

Sources said the company had issued special ID cards to a large number of contractors labourers working inside its works, which is overseeing an expansion from 6.8 million tonne per annum (mtpa) to 10 mtpa.

Though the incident had nothing to do with Tata Steel directly and its workers, the magnitude of violence caught almost everybody unawares, including the district administration as well as the company management.

Playing down the incident, a statement issued by the steel major said, During a routine gate pass checking exercise at our Sakchi works gate on Monday, Tata Steels security men on duty noted that few contract labourers were attempting unauthorised entry into the works; on confronting them, a minor altercation took place which flared up within some time.