Employees Stir Costs Nalco Rs 10-crore Production Loss

Bhubaneswar, May 21: | Updated: May 22 2003, 05:30am hrs
National Aluminium Company Ltd (Nalco) suffered a production loss of about Rs 10 crore on Wednesday, as 6,400 of its employees went on a dawn-to-dusk 12-hour strike protesting against the privatisation of the profit-making public sector undertaking.

Nalcos operations at Panchpatmali bauxite mines, Damanjodi refinery, Angul smelter plant and the captive power plant were virtually paralysed as workers, engineers and executives belonging to 20 different unions of the company joined the strike under the banner of Nalco Employees Coordination Committee Against Disinvestment. Police have arrested over 200 employees of Nalco for disrupting traffic on the national highway near Angul, and picketing in front of the company head office in Bhubaneswar and refinery in Damanjodi. Police picked up as many as 50 employees when they were picketing before the Nalco Corporate office.

Police had to disperse the agitating employees at Angul who were squatting on the Howrah-Mumbai National Highway, disrupting traffic.

The Employees Coordination Committee, in fact, had decided to observe a token strike in response to the nationwide strike call given by the various trade unions to protest in support of their 8-point charter of demands. However, following news reports that the government is going ahead with its disinvestment agenda starting with an initial public offering (IPO) of 30 per cent of the stake, the committee decided to paralyse the plant and the corporate office.

We will not allow the government to divest the stakes in any form, asserted the committee convenor BC Roy. He said the struggle would intensify if the government did not withdraw from the disinvestment process. The government should learn a lesson from the Balco disinvestment, said committee member Ramesh Chandra Behera, adding it is high time the government realises that there is no public support for disinvestment in a profit-making company like Nalco.

A company spokesperson, however, said no untoward incident has been reported from the plant site. The spokesperson told FE that no damage has been caused to the plant machinery due to the strike.