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Citu admits distance from roots

Calcutta, Nov. 17: The Citu leadership today admitted that despite more members, its strength in the organised sector has been on the decline over the past decade because of shutters coming down on factories and other industrial units.

Announcing a three-day state conference of the Citu in the city from Thursday, state secretary of the union Chittabrata Majumdar said the number of its members has increased from 10.9 lakh to 12.77 lakh in the past three years. And while replying to questions on the Dalgaon massacre, he said a distance has developed between the leadership and the workers.

“We had pointed out in our last state conference in Haldia three years ago that trade union leaders will have to move closer to the workers. We will thrash out the issue this time too,” said Majumdar.

The eighth state conference will be inaugurated by former chief minister Jyoti Basu. Citu president M.K. Pandhe will be among the speakers.

Majumdar was on the offensive while referring to accusations that militant trade unionism was a prime reason why entrepreneurs shunned Bengal. “What do you mean by militant trade unionism' A cycle factory shifted from Howrah’s Salkia to Haryana because they could hire cheap child labour and make them slog for 12 hours. We will definitely protest against this kind of exploitation,” he said.

Over the past decade, Majumdar said, investments in the state have mostly been in the information technology sector and were of little help to the large number of jobless workers. “Very few of those who lost their jobs because of factories and other industrial units closing down were re-employed in the new units,” he added.

The leader of the CPM’s trade union arm reminded reporters that developed countries provide social security to the unemployed.

A delegation of the Citu-led Hindustan Motor and Hyderabad Industries Workers’ Union urged the state government today not to allow the management to sell parts of the factory premises.

The delegation submitted a memorandum to industries minister Nirupam Sen and land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah.

The union leader, Shantasri Chatterjee, said Sen assured them that the government would “do nothing that will come in the way of the workers’ interests”. He alleged that wages were irregular and expressed fears that the “management might sell a portion of the land to realtors”.

Tolerance plea

State CPM secretary Anil Biswas today urged people not to fuel “regionalism” in the wake of the attacks against the Hindi-speaking community following violence in a train in Bihar.

“We should not indulge in regionalism. We are all Indians,” he said.

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