by Ashis Sinha
“Contract labourers now play an important role in the Bokaro Steel Plant (BSL) production. However, they are denied their rights and entitlements due to the alienated attitude of BSL management, as well as their policies and intents,” said Rajendra Singh, the General Secretary of Krantikari Ispat Mazdoor Sangh (HMS) and a member of the NJCS.
Singh voiced these concerns while addressing a gathering of contract labourers at the Sudarshan Canteen within BSL’s Coke Oven today.
Singh criticized the implementation of the state government’s minimum wage at BSL, alleging that it is misleading. He called for the principle of equal compensation for equal labour, emphasizing the urgent need for a reasonable salary increase for contract workers, to be achieved by convening an NJCS conference.
“We are determined to abolish slavery and bonded labour,” Singh declared.
Singh further asserted that BSL and the coke oven management deliberately issue low-cost tenders to exploit contract labourers. He stressed that contract workers in the coke ovens are well aware of their rights and will not accept any reduction in their benefits, no matter how drastic.
While grade promotions were initiated as per the agreement with the Assistant Labor Commissioner, they have not been implemented in the proportion they should have been. Singh demanded grade promotions for all labourers working in the battery and stated their willingness to shut down operations if necessary.
During a meeting with SAIL’s Director of Personnel, discussions regarding gratuity for contract labourers took place. The Director of Personnel supported the demand, assuring that gratuity would soon be introduced for contract labourers at BSL.
Regarding the promises made by Bokaro management regarding group insurance for contract labourers, Singh pointed out that these pledges remain unfulfilled. He warned that the union would be compelled to take direct action if gratuity and group insurance, with a minimum of Rs 15 lakh for each contract employee, are not promptly provided. Singh urged all contract workers at the plant to unite against what he called the corrupt and oppressive administration of the plant, emphasizing that division among them would hinder the attainment of justice and rights.
In addition to Singh, speakers at the meeting included Pramod Dev, Arun Kumar, Jumman, Nagendra Kumar, Ujjwal Kumar, Hareram, Amit Yadav, Siraj, Dharmendra Pandit, and others. The contract labourers continue to demand fair treatment and the protection of their rights within BSL.