GUWAHATI, Aug 19 � Asking the State government to revoke the Essential Service Maintenance Act (ESMA) and protesting against the �irregularities� in the payment and other facilities given to the contractual workers of the Guwahati Refinery, the United Workmen Union has decided to launch a non-cooperation movement in September.
The union alleged that the tripartite agreement among the United Workmen Union, Contractors� Association and the Guwahati Refinery authorities is not being followed properly.
�According to the agreement, the wages of refinery workers were to be increased after every six months, at par with the price rise of essential commodities. Till a year after the agreement, the refinery authorities provided this increased amount through the contractors. But later on, the exercise was left entirely on the contractors and most of them have not provided the increased sum to the workers,� said Biren Kalita, president of the union, addressing the media here.
�We would start a non-co-operation movement in mid-September if no step is taken to solve our problems,� he said.
The union has also decided to lead an awareness campaign about the workers� rights from August 22 to 31, a dharna on September 4 and a hunger strike on September 11 in support of their various demands at the gate of Guwahati Refinery.
�Assam government has prohibited strike by the oil sector employees under ESMA, which is a repressive Act, curtailing the democratic rights of the workers. We demand the State government to revoke this Act immediately,� he added.
The union further alleged that many of the contractors were pocketing a major share of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees State Insurance (ESI) scheme. �It is unfortunate that the workers are not even getting proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the authorities and they have to buy the equipment on their own,� said Kalita.
�The contractual workers of the refinery are suffering a lot due to the lack of a proper mechanism for their pays and perks as they are left on the mercy of the contractors. As per the rules, all the workers should get their payments within the first ten days of every month, but unfortunately, many contractors do not pay the workers for three to four consecutive months,� added Kalita.
The union also alleged that as the main employer of the contractual workers, the Guwahati Refinery also has failed in its duties to ensure proper payment and other facilities to the workers.