For the second time in about three months, the workers at the Bokaro Steel Plant (BSL) halted work to demand pay revision, which has been pending for about five years now. With operations coming to a stop for several hours, the Plant incurred heavy losses in terms of revenue and production, to the tune of several crores. Such heavy loss has not occurred at the plant in at least 20 years.
The pay revision has been long overdue, since 2017, and the unions have been trying their best to get their demands fulfilled. However, this time the delay actually got to the workers, many of whom stayed away from work and prevented others from working too.
The strike affected all the units of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), with BSL bearing the maximum brunt.
The 12 trade unions have been demanding better pay and benefits for the workers. They wish for 15 per cent minimum guarantee benefit, 35 per cent perks, 9 per cent pension and clearance of all pending dues. The unions are also demanding that the wages of contract labourers be increased. They are unhappy with the ceiling on gratuity too. Among other demands, the unions want the management to give jobs to the dependents of workers who lost their lives to COVID-19.
Despite the fear of COVID, the workers had thrown caution to the wind and agitated, even blocking the railway track used to transport hot metals to other units. The district administration had to be requested to pitch in to help control the agitators with the help of CISF personnel.