Once again, hundreds of employees of the English Indian Clays Ltd (EICL) here are facing uncertainty with the company management deciding to ‘temporarily’ discontinue operations citing mounting losses.
EICL, part of the Karan Thapar Group of Companies, had gone through a similar situation in 2019.
The management announced its decision to suspend operations from Monday in a notice issued on Sunday, employees said. Employees have been asked not to report for duty until further notice. They would not be entitled to salary and other benefits during the shutdown period, they have been told. Led by the EICL trade unions, the employees were camping at the EICL Veli campus on Monday demanding an explanation from the company management.
“So far, they have not given us any. The closure notice was pasted on the notice board and at the main gate at 9 p.m. on Sunday when work was in progress,” said Ajith Kumar, vice president, District Clay Workers' Congress (INTUC).
According to the employees’ unions, the company was scheduled to pay their bonus on Tuesday.
“Also, as per an agreement arrived at in 2019, the salary dues of the employees have to be settled by September,” said K. Udayakumar, District Clay Workers' Union (CITU). As many as 1,500 families depend on the EICL for their livelihood.
EICL mines kaolin (China clay) deposits in the district and processes the clay at two facilities - the main plant at Kochu Veli and a second one at Thonnackal.
Meanwhile, company officials alleged that the State government has done little to resolve the industrial issues plaguing EICL. Acute shortage of good quality clay had left the management with no other option, a senior official told The Hindu.
EICL’s captive mines in the district have remained shut for the past 24 months. The future of EICL hinges on the availability of China clay. Although the government had been apprised of the situation, the permission to re-open the mines at Thonnackal is yet to be granted. The company has been operating on heavy losses , the official said.