Company President, union leader dead

Labour unrest, which turned violent at the Yanam plant of Regency Ceramics Ltd today, claimed the lives of its President and a dismissed union leader, besides leaving several injured and causing damage to property. Several employees injured in the police firing are undergoing treatment in hospitals.

A strike for the past few weeks has been plaguing the Rs 192-crore Regency Ceramics, which is among the top 10 tile manufacturers in the country. The Yanam plant is about 25 km from here but belongs to the Union Territory of Puducherry.

On Friday, the President of the company and head operations of the Yanam plant, Mr K. C. Chandrasekhar, was attacked by a large group of employees at his residence. He was rushed to a hospital here, but succumbed to injuries.

The workers of Regency Ceramics have been demanding wage revision, regularisation of the services of temporary workers and also re-instatement of some dismissed employees, including the union leader, Mr Murali Mohan.

On Friday morning, it is learnt, the workers, under the leadership of Mr Murali Mohan, approached the main gate of the factory and sought to dissuade another set of employees from entering the premises. But as prohibitory orders were in force, the police resorted to a lathi-charge.

The union leader and several other workers were injured. They were then taken to the police station where the union leader complained of severe chest pain. Subsequently, it is learnt, he vomited and fainted and then he was taken to a hospital where he was declared dead.

This infuriated his supporters and workers, who went on the rampage and attacked the properties of Regency Ceramics, buses belonging to the Group's educational institutions as also the trucks of the company.

The Andhra Pradesh Government sent additional forces to Yanam to assist the Puducherry police and also deputed some officials to bring the situation under control.

In a statement, the company said about 400 workers entered the plant premises and caused severe damage to equipment, electronic parts, vehicles, computers, etc. Mr G. N. Naidu, Executive Chairman, told Business Line that the company had been in talks with employees and was trying to sort out issues since November. Claiming that operations at Regency were going on smoothly and growing in the past 28 years except for a strike in 1990.

The management had introduced a production oriented incentive scheme that was mutually beneficial. The conciliation proceedings before the Labour Commissioner were also in the process of bringing about an amicable settlement.

Mr Harsha Kumar, Honorary President of the employees union and MP, while condemning the incidents, demanded a thorough probe. He said that for the past 10 years there had been no wage hike. “We have been representing to the management, but there has been no response,” he said.

The company's scrip declined 4.09 per cent to end at Rs 4.22 on the BSE on Friday.

vzchs@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 27, 2012)
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