In a faxed message to the chief labour commissioner S K Mukhopadhyay in Delhi, general secretaries of UCILs four unions, sought the CLCs active intervention in ending the deadlock. They complained that the existing conciliatory mechanism comprising the regional labour commissioner (central) at Dhanbad and the assistant labour commissioner (central) at Chaibasa were not capable of understanding the situation and had failed to carry forward the negotiations.
Agreement on the eagerly-anticipated wage deal for the 4,500-odd UCIL workers had eluded once again at the last rounds of talks at Chaibasa, 90 km from here, on Monday and Tuesday in the presence of RLC (central) and ALC (central), with the trade unions alleging that the management had gone back on their promises.
The unions said the UCIL management was ready to give a 24% raise in the basic pay of the workers while lowering allowances from the levels it had earlier agreed to pay.
They are making us lose Rs 700 per month in vehicle allowance and underground allowance (taken together) and paying an extra Rs 100 per month against these, said Pradip Bhagat, general secretary, Singhbhum Uranium Mazdoor Sangh (SUMS).
The unions said their bargaining point for vehicle allowance had been Rs 700 per month while the management, after having declared that they were agreeable to pay Rs 650 per month, had backtracked at the talks to settle at Rs 550.
Similarly, against the existing underground allowance payable at 20% to the workers on their basic pay after a deduction of Rs 2,000, the management wants to pay a new underground allowance rate at 20% after a deduction of Rs 3,772 from the basic pay.
This way workers with a higher basic pay would lose around Rs 700 per month in underground allowance alone, said Bhagat, adding that if the managements suggestion was implemented the worker at the lowest end of the scale would be receiving an underground allowance at the rate of 13.2% of his basic.
The unions are demanding that underground allowance be either kept at the existing level or that UCIL workers be paid the entire underground allowance package like coal industry workers, which is 12.5% of the basic pay.
Speaking to FE, UCIL general manager (administration) K Mahali said the general secretaries of the four trade unions, who were to hold a meeting today to decide their future course of action, would enable the management to take the next step. We will wait for their views, he said.