The Rs 20,000-crore expansion project site at the BPCL-Kochi Refinery is now a ‘strike-free zone’, the Union Minister of State for Labour, Kodikkunnil Suresh, said. This is to ensure that the project is completed within 42 months.

A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of project stakeholders, including management and trade unions leaders. The meeting was convened by the Union and State Governments.

Speaking to reporters, the Minister said that a three-tier system had been established to resolve labour disputes without disrupting work. A regional joint labour commissioner will be posted at the works site.

If the dispute cannot be resolved at the site, the issue will be taken up at the regional labour commissioner’s office and, if needed, the State Government will intervene, the Labour Minister said.

Two doctors will also be posted at the site under the Employees’ State Insurance scheme to ensure that timely medical attention is provided to employees. Workers’ safety was also discussed at the meeting, he said.

According to the Minister, the Prime Minister’s office had taken special interest in the project and it will be monitored closely in review meetings every three months.

Speaking on the occasion, the State Labour Minister, Shibu Baby John, described the move as a step towards evolving a new work culture in Kerala.

He said that the trade union leaders had agreed that no regional hartals and strikes would affect work at the refinery’s site. In case of a nationwide hartal by a trade unions, the issue would be discussed before any work is stopped.

The project site will work 24x7 in three shifts and employ 20,000 workers for two years.

The Integrated Refinery Expansion Project envisages increasing the refining capacity of BPCL-Kochi Refinery from the present 9.5 million tonnes to 15.5 million tonnes, making it the largest public sector refinery in the country.

(This article was published on July 6, 2013)
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