December 11, 2008

10 West Bengal jute mills resume work in despite strike

Kolkata, Dec 5 :Ten jute mills in West Bengal have resumed work despite an ongoing indefinite strike called by 18 trade unions in the state, a mill owners' organisation said Thursday.
'Ten jute mills in the suburbs of Kolkata have started working. Some other jute mills also want to start working but militant trade unionism is stopping them,' Sanjay Kajaria, chairman of the Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA), told newspersons.
The indefinite strike in 59 jute mills in the state started Dec 1 due to non-payment of dearness allowance (DA) to the workers by the mill owners since April 2007.

Gobinda Guha, general secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU)-affiliated Bengal Chatkal Majdoor Union, confirmed that 10 jute mills have started operations.

'Around six mills in Howrah, two in South 24-Parganas and a few others have reopened,' Guha said.

'Since the time is good for the mills owners as they are getting record orders from the government, they should settle the striking workers' demand,' he said.

The jute industry witnessed a 63-day strike from Jan 5 to March 8 in 2007, which crippled production during that period.

The IJMA claimed the central government had decided to allow use of plastic bags to pack food grain by amending present norms requiring mandatory use of jute bags as the workers in most of the mills had gone on strike. This would dampen demand, Kajaria said.

'The textile ministry has communicated to us that it will dilute the Jute Packaging Materials Act to allow plastic bags as work at most mills have come to a halt following the strike. Our worst fear has come true,' he added.

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