There are enough indications that the prolonged impasse over wage revision is likely to intensify as the 294 sacked employees are exploring legal options to challenge the termination orders of the company.
Meanwhile, Pricol seems to be prepared for the battle as it has already filed an appeal in the labour court explaining its actions and has offered to provide more material to substantiate the termination of employees.
On February 11, Pricol had terminated 294 dissenting workmen who refused to accept the orders transferring them to the company’s plants in three other locations outside Tamil Nadu. Out of the 302 workers transferred in December last year for striking work, eight had accepted the company decision and reported for work in the respective places. The rest were sacked, but with an offer that their termination will be withdrawn given they accept the transfer orders.
But the workers were defiant and alleged that the termination was illegal since status quo should be maintained as talks were still on.
With Pricol staying away from the tripartite talks scheduled in the district collectorate on Wednesday, members of Coimbatore District Pricol Workers Union, affiliated to All India Central Council of Trade Union (AICCTU), met the district revenue officer Durai Ravichandran, who represented the state government, and explained their demands. Labour department officials were also present.
“In case of industrial disputes, they cannot terminate people without informing the labour officials, especially when talks are on. We have explained this as well as our demands to the officials,’’ president of Coimbatore District Pricol Workers Union P Natarajan said. He said they would challenge the termination orders in the court. “We are awaiting direction from our senior union leaders,’’ he said.
Pricol meanwhile had moved an appeal petition in the labour court in Coimbatore on Monday explaining their decision and the rationale behind it. Pricol said this was not a case of industrial dispute, but highhandedness of section of workers. “We are ready to provide all documentary evidence to substantiate our decision,” chief people’s officer of Pricol R Malarvannan said.
The district administration authorities and labour officials are awaiting return of collector T N Hariharan from leave in a few days after which they will take a call on sorting out the imbroglio.
In a sign that the issue might snowball, political outfits, particularly left parties, have come out in support of the sacked employees.