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ONGC contractual workers stage protest in Silchar

From Special Correspondent

Silchar, Feb 2: ONGC Contractual Workers’ Union, Cachar project, Sriko, near this town, has again firmed up and resumed their agitation in support of 3 point charter of demands, a memorandum to the effect was submitted to the Assistant Labour Commissioner (Central), Department of Labour and Employment, Government of India. As decided, contractual workers assembled in large number before the office of the Assistant Labour Commissioner (Central) located at College Road of this town. They raised slogans, highlighting their grievances. Today was the fourth day of the agitation which was preceded by sit-in-demonstration inside the office of the assistant labour commissioner (central).

The workers would go for relay hunger strike for two days followed by walling of leaflets and their distribution among public to acquaint them with the vindictive attitude of the executives against working class people. It was also decided if the demands are not met even after that, contractual workers victims of injustice will go for indefinite hunger strike and for any eventuality, the ONGC magement will be held responsible. This was revealed by Kajal Sarkar, president, and Mitali Gupta, general secretary, of the Union.

According to the leaders, the story of injustice towards the casual workers by ONGC authorities began in 1970. Unemployed youths were employed against minimum remuneration on contractual basis, but had to do the works of a permanent employee. It was against this discrimition that in 1986-1987, the intervention of assistant labour commissioner was sought and dialogue started with the ONGC authorities, but their indifferent attitude kept the matter unresolved. The assistant labour commissioner in the circumstances sent the matter to the Guwahati based Industrial Tribul which issued order for regularization of the casual workers.

Against the judgement of the Gauhati High Court rejecting the order of the Industrial Tribul, ONGC Contractual Workers’ Union filed review petition before the Gauhati High Court which upheld the order of the Tribul. But, the ONGC authorities again filed review petition before the Gauhati High Court which directed for maintaining status-quo. As there was no positive response from the ONGC authorities, the Union approached the Higher Court with three contempt petitions against the ONGC authorities. By an order dated September 16, 2011, the Higher Court directed the ONGC magement to resolve the grievances of the workers on the basis of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1987.

Quite unfortutely, Mitali Gupta said despite all these efforts and the intervention of the Higher Court, ONGC authorities continue to maintain rigid stand. In its helplessness, assistant labour commissioner (central) filed cases in the CJM Court here against the ONGC authorities twice in 2015. But, there was no change in the stand of the ONGC magement. Kajal Sarkar said, “Being pushed to the wall, we have no option than to renew our agitation.”

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Ankur Kalita