KNPP's first unit heads for another roadblock

KNPP's first unit heads for another roadblock

Staff protest as wage issues kept pending for two years

After overcoming a series of technical snags to finally reach commercial operation, power generation in the first 1,000 MW unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) is heading for another roadblock in the shape of its own staff.

New employees at the plant have threatened to launch an agitation if their demands to resolve wage issues, including the fixing of a bonus, are not met.

Over 500 employees at the first unit, who were recruited in 2010-11, suddenly launched a flash protest near the office, demanding bonuses and that other wage-related issues be resolved.

They shouted slogans against the management for not heading to their requests pending for several months. “We were promised by the management that the bonus will be disbursed. However, it has not been done since 2012,” said a KNPP employee seeking anonymity.

He said the agitated employees also took up their issue with the members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Undertaking, who visited the power plant recently.

However, soon after the management held discussion with the protesters and promised that they would resolve the issue after consulting higher authorities in Delhi, the strike was temporarily withdrawn.

“If our demands are not met, we will continue to protest till our bonus and other issues are solved,” a staffer said.

KNPP Sources said the power production was slightly affected due to the agitation.
However, the electricity generation resumed soon after the staff withdrew their agitation and began their work.

After facing several hitches, including technical snags and anti-nuclear protests, the much-awaited commercial operations of KNPP’s first unit had commenced from December 31, 2014. So far, it has generated 644 million units of power.

As of last month, 97.68 per cent of the work on KNPP’s second unit was completed and is expected to start commercial operations this June.

“As more than 90 per cent of work completed in the unit, we have already approached the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board to start the hot run process before the unit attains criticality,” a senior official from KNPP said.

Construction of the third and fourth unit of the KNPP, for which India had recently signed an agreement with Russia, has also begun.

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