Kolkata , February 11 : Over 2.5 lakh Jute Mill workers of the state in West Bengal is set to start an indefinite strike for wage revision and implementation of minimum wages act in the Jute Industry from 1st March. The slated strike, which will be effective in all the mills of the state , will also affect over 4.5 million Jute growers, as the strike will paralyze the entire sector in the state, for an indefinite period.
CITU West Bengal State Committee General Secretary Anadi Sahu informed this today, in a Press conference organised at Krishnapada Memorial hall in Kolkata, on the sidelines of a joint convention comprising of the 21 Trade Unions working in the Jute sector of the state.
All the major trade unions of the Jute sector, including the CITU affiliated BCMU and INTUC affilated Jute mill workers Union and others , also participated in the Joint convention in Kolkata . The determined marginal workers of the jute sector of the state , were present in the convention in large numbers and raised slogaans and cheered at whenever the proposal of the impending strike was seconded by any leader of the jute workers unions , in the convention.
It can be recalled that the Jute Sector ,which has not seen any major wage revision after 2011, still is paid @ Rs 257 per day. ’Even masons are paid more than Rs 500 per day and masons helper even as paid Rs 350 day for helping the mason in his work’ retorted Nagendra Paswan , a jute mill employee from Titagarh , who was present in the convention, and pointed that the heavy labour intensive and physically strainous work of an average Jute mill worker , would fetch higher income in similar conditions , in any other sector of the country. The Union Governments’ role in this regard is also extremely bad and detrimental to workers interest “ they alleged .
The concerned Union Minister Smriti Irani even refused to pay heed to the Jute workers demands when several Unions met with the Union Minister , in this regard, they alleged.
CITU leader Anadi Sahu announced that the impending strike notice will be with three days , to the office of the West Bengal Governments Labour department and to the jute mill owners association “ICJMA “ both of who have repeatedly dillydallied over the long standing demand of the jute workers in this regard. The Mill owners have faltered over paying of 1050 crores of retirement and PF dues to the Jute workers , he said and said that on an average in many cases jute workers retirement dues are not paid in 10 to 15 years after his retirement, and many of the ailing aged jute mill workers passes away , without receiving any retirement due after toiling for 35 to 40years .
In the joint convention many jute workers also alleged that the ruling party TMC and its MLA Arjun Singh , is taking a role as the union buster in the Naihati- Titagarh- Barrackpore jute mill labourers’ colonies and pointed out how ruling party hooligans on 7ThJanuary attacked Jute Mill labourers for refusing to enter Jute mill premises to work , even after threat of the ruling party mafia .
Even, after the state sponsored oppression , both on 7th and 8th January National strike was 100 % effective in the jute mills of the entire state, they announced amidst high pitched slogaans’ of the jute mills workers, present in the convention. The Jute sector trade unions also alleged that the PF trustee boards at the mill level has been forcefully taken over by the ruling party mafia , with connection of the jute mill owners , to give advantage to the jute mill owners of not paying the retirement dues , to the jute mill workers.
The 21 Trade Unions also alleged that last year even after repeated request by the 21 main trade unions operating in the jute sector , the State Labour department only held three meetings , and in one of the meeting just heard the demands of the jute Mill owners and has in the meanwhile constantly excused themselves from even hearing the demands of the jute mill workers for wage revision ,paying of retirement dues to every worker and on time, and for gender equality in wage ,and to follow the Supreme Courts’ order of providing same wage for same type of work , across the industry.
“It is a choking situation for the entire jute mill workers , all the 21 Trade Unions in the Jute mill sector of the state” , observed in the convention and condemned the attitude of the Jute Mill Owners , who being supported by the ruling TMC hooligans . They also alleged that in the name of Union , the TMC hooligans are providing the mill owners with muscleman support , in order to bull doze the aspirations of the average jute mill workers , and even a slight protest against the ill behavior of the Jute mill owners and the management, is rewarded with suspension and dismissal.
In these cases , though it is against the accord of Indian Labour Conference of 1957 , and the Indian Labour Act , however State Governments Labour department , in not a single case has stood up for the dismissed workers , or against the suspensions. On the Contrary The Trade Unions observed that the labour department of the West Bengal Government after 2011,has indulged in the nefarious activities of the jute mill owners in siphoning away of the jute mill funds to other ventures of the owners and has refrained from taking action against the errant jute owners who has played truant , with mill workers ‘ Retirement dues , the convention observed .