Contract workers have been agitating since October 2016 for a 14 point charter of demands under the leadership of the Koderma (Banjhodih)Thermal Power Plant committee of the Jharkhand General Mazdoor Union. Over 500 contract workers are working in this plant. All of them are members of the contract workers’ union and have been active in the ongoing agitation.
On 26 October and 4 November 2016 notices relating to the hartal were given to the management, after which talks took place on 22 November between the KTPP management and the union. But the management refused to fulfill any of the demands of the workers. Finally, the workers gave formal notice and went on an indefinite strike from 26 December 2016. Chief among their 14 demands are: DVC should implement the 42% increase in minimum wages as fixed by the Government of India; as per the Supreme Court verdict of 26 October 2016 contract workers of Banjhodih Power Plant should get basic salary and other facilities on par with permanent workers of DVC; contract workers doing maintenance work for more than 2 years should be given promotion; workers regularly working at heights should be paid height allowance with arrears; sanitation workers in the plant should be made at par with maintenance workers; contract workers engaged in maintenance work should be given CL/medical leave/night allowance/transport allowance/ESI and other facilities on par with other workers; canteen facility should be made available in the plant premises; contractors should not be released from their contracts until they make full payment to their workers; maintenance workers should get free treatment in the plant health centre; contract workers’ gate passes should be renewed every 6 months.
Addressing a meeting of the striking workers on 27 December CPI (ML) MLA Com. Rajkumar Yadav said that the demands of the workers are legitimate especially in these times of demonetization when lakhs of workers are being deprived of their livelihood. The issues of the workers will be raised in the January 2017 Jharkhand Assembly session. Talks were held on 28 December between the Assistant Labour Commissioner, Hazaribagh, DVC and union representatives. The management was willing only to give height allowance with arrears. The Union did not agree for this, and the strike is continuing. On the morning of 29 December all 3 factory gates were fully blocked.