The workers of Hindusthan Zinc smelter here have been conducting gate meetings and agitating over the announcement of the smelter earlier this week by the management. Sterlite holds the majority stake in the company. The PSU was disinvested during the NDA regime, with Sterlite acquiring 65 per cent stake.

In fact, the operations were suspended more than a year ago, as according to the management it had become unviable to operate the smelter with high freight and other costs, with the raw material being sourced from Rajahsthan. Subsequently, 266 workers were asked to go on deputation to different places in the country where the Sterlite Industries was operating. The workers refused to comply with the order and an industrial dispute is pending.

The joint commissioner of labour here has issued notices to the management over the issue, seeking an explanation as to why such a step was taken when an industrial dispute was pending.

The local people's representatives, including Union Minister of State for Commerce D. Purandeswari who represents Visakhapatnam Lok Sabha constituency, are supporting the agitation. Several union leaders and others have extended support to the workers, condemning the move of Sterlite.

sarma.rs@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on April 5, 2013)
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