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No let-up in HAL strike as stand-off continues

The unions have sought a wage revision given to the executives, a gross salary hike of 35 per cent, including 110-140 per cent hike in perks.

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Staff strike for wage revision HAL operations

Bengaluru, Oct 21 : The indefinite strike by the workers of the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for wage revision continued on the 8th day, with the trade unions and management hardening their positions, an official said on Monday.

“There is a production loss as nearly 20,000 workers are on strike since October 14 despite 8,000 officers and 11,000 contract employees reporting to duty,” the official told IANS.

Refuting the management claim that the strike had not grounded the company’s operations, HAL trade union General Secretary S. Chandrasekhar said as officers don’t work on the shop floor or operate any machine, work at all the nine production units has halted.

“The officers and their executives don’t operate machinery as their work is confined to supervising, planning and inspecting. The contract workers can’t do much without the skilled workforce on duty,” Chandrashekar said in a statement later.

Accusing HAL Chairman R. Madhavan of giving step-motherly treatment to the workers, the union leader said the financial crisis in the company had not prevented the management from extending benefits to executives but not increase the workers’ wages.

The 55-year-old aerospace major has six production complexes in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Koraput in Odisha, Korwa and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Nashik in Maharashtra and three research and development (R&D) centres across the country.

The company has petitioned the Karnataka High Court for a direction to the workforce to withdraw the strike and report to work.

The unions have sought a wage revision given to the executives, a gross salary hike of 35 per cent, including 110-140 per cent hike in perks.

The wage revision is due since January 1, 2017, as the previous two revisions were in 2012 and 2007 for 5 years, respectively.

About 10,000 employees work in the company’s Bengaluru production complex and the remaining 10,000 in eight locations across the country.

India

Tale of two Delhi Police responses

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JNU Student and Delhi Police

New Delhi, Nov 20 (IANS) In an incident reminiscent of then Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar directing his force to unleash water cannons and tear gas on the protesting youth in the aftermath of the gruesome Nirbhaya gang-rape case in December 2012, Delhi Police on Monday came down heavily on the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) demanding “complete rollback” of the recent hostel fee hike.

The police action caused injuries to many students, many of whom had blood streaming down their faces — for their part, the police said many among them were injured in the clashes.

Hundreds of students were stopped by the police on Monday near the JNU campus soon after they began marching towards the Parliament. The protests brought traffic in the area to a standstill.

In response, the police lathi charged and beat up the protesting students, including visually-impaired students.

Just 10 days ago, the same police personnel protested after they had clashed with lawyers in Delhi’s Tis Hazari court premises.

Many JNU students and academia have now started questioning, “Were the cops who thrashed the students venting their spleen for being beaten up by the lawyers?”

On Monday, a visually impaired student, Shashi Bhushan Pandey, who was taking part in the march to the Parliament, was roughed up by Delhi Police personnel following which he had to be taken to the AIIMS trauma centre.

“I was taken away from the human chain. I thought since I told them that I am visually impaired, they would spare me a beating, but no. I was hit on the leg. The boy who helped me and took me to the hospital was also attacked by the Police,” Pandey later said.

“When I told the policemen that I was blind, they said, ‘If you are blind, why have you come for the protest’,” said Pandey.

The university’s visually challenged students’ forum has issued a statement in condemnation of the police action. While senior police officers accepted the fact that it was not correct, they also endorsed the lathi charge on the agitating students.

“We asked them to stop and not cross a particular point, but they kept marching and thereafter indulged in clashes. It should have been avoided,” said a senior IPS officer.

On November 5, in an unprecedented protest by Delhi Police, thousands of its personnel laid siege outside the Police Headquarters for several hours and staged a virtual revolt against Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik for not speaking up for them when they were attacked by the lawyers on Tis Hazari court premises on November 2.

The senior officers who came to address their grievances faced their ire. Amidst slogans like “We Want Justice” and “Go Back, Go Back”, senior officers, including Patnaik, were forced to leave, putting a big question mark on the leadership of the force.

Senior officers of Delhi Police declined to comment on the decision to order a lathi charge on JNU students.

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Election

Supreme Court moved over discrepancies in 2019 Lok Sabha poll data

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Lok Sabha Election 2019

New Delhi, Nov 20 : Two non-government organisations (NGOs) have moved the Supreme Court seeking a probe into alleged discrepancies in the voter turnout data and votes counted in 347 constituencies in the 2019 general election.

“There have been serious discrepancies in the number of voters in different constituencies (i.e. the voter turnout data collated and provided by the Election Commission) and the number of votes counted,” said the plea filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the Common Cause.

The NGOs have clarified that the plea didn’t challenge the Lok Sabha election results, or the process adopted to conduct polls.

They contended that the EC declared results of the election on provisional figures and without determining the exact vote count and without due reconciliation of the discrepancies in various constituencies.

“The EC has not laid down any prescribed system for compiling, reconciliation and publishing of poll data and therefore, has been evading placing the methodology followed by it, in public domain”, the petition stated.

It sought a direction to the EC to place the information in statutory forms — 17C, 20, 21C, 21D and 21E — for the general elections and all future elections, in public domain.

The discrepancies between the actual voter turnout and provisional data in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as pointed out were significant and couldn’t be set aside without a satisfactory resolution of the same, it said.

“The current statute has a procedure for resolution of a dispute through an election petition, but no provision for resolution of the doubts arising out of discrepancies in a large number of constituencies all over the country,” it said.

The plea highlighted the dereliction of duty by the EC in declaring results of the Lok Sabha and Assemblies through electronic voting machines (EVMs) based on accurate and indisputable data which is put in public domain.

The petitioners said, the discrepancies ranged from 1 to 1,01,323 votes, which was 10.49 per cent of the total votes.

However, there was no particular co-relation with any party regarding discrepancies found in its research, the ADR added.

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India

Cabinet approves sale of stakes in BPCL, 4 other PSUs

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New Delhi, Nov 20 : The Cabinet on Wednesday approved sale of government’s stake in five blue-chip PSUs, including Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), Shipping Corp of India (SCI) and Container Corp of India along with transfer of management control, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

The government will sell its 53.29 per cent stake in BPCL after taking out Numaligarh refinery from its portfolio, she told reporters here.

Besides, the government will sell its stake in THDC India and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd (NEEPCO) to state-owned NTPC Ltd, she said.

Finance Minister said the Cabinet has also approved cutting government’s stake in select PSUs below 51 per cent while retaining management control.

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