SAHAGANJ(Hooghly), 19th November, 2008: Agitated workers of the Dunlop factory at Sahaganj in West Bengal protested at the gates of the unit on Tuesday and demanded its reopening.
On Monday, the Pawan Ruia Group that owns Dunlop cited the global economic meltdown; a lack of demand and a funds crunch and suspended production, offering workers Rs 2000 per month till the factory reopens. But the workers don't believe any of it - neither the reason for suspending work nor the offer of allowance. They want the factory back on stream and all their long-pending dues. Mrityunjay Pandey a worker at Dunlop, said, “The management is talking about the economy. But the economy has been down only for the last two months. They are just pretending, saying they will get money from here or there. But no one will give them any.
Harish Singh another worker said, “We have no faith in this management. Whatever agreement is to be made must be made in front of the Chief Minister or the Industry Minister. We will accept only those commitments.”
The leaders of the CITU and INTUC unions who had been talking to the management were incommunicado and demanding government intervention. Meanwhile there is evident gloom among the labourers. Since the Ruia group took over Dunlop two years ago, they had received some respite from the instability. But now the uncertainties seem to be back. Shakli Devi, wife of a Dunlop employee, said, “How will I run my family. There’s no work and no salary. How will I manage? As it is, we suffered for ten years. Now the trouble is back.”
It is certain that for the moment at least, the story of the revival of Dunlop India is truly over.With it industrialization in West Bengal has received another blow. Also a very, very uncertain future faces the 1202 workers who depended on Dunlop India for a livelihood.