The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hotel union runs to Citu, govt stays firm

Calcutta, March 20: Six days before the deadline expires on the early retirement scheme in the state-run Great Eastern Hotel, a union has knocked on the doors of the Citu state secretariat in a last-ditch attempt to get the scheme restructured.

But the government appeared to be ready to press ahead with the proposal, ruling out any modification.

'We want the government only to ensure re-employment of those who have many years to go before retirement. A little modification is necessary for those who are young and have worked for only a few years in the hotel,' Pravat Samir Roy, the secretary of the Citu-run Great Eastern Hotel Employees' and Workers' Union, said.

He felt that the modification would make the scheme 'easily acceptable' to the employees.

'Though the government has already served the ERS notice on 400-odd employees of the hotel to pave the way for its privatisation, there are some anomalies in the scheme. We have approached the Citu's top brass to intervene so that employees' interest is protected,' said Raghunath Kusari, the CPM's Calcutta district committee secretary.

However, the government said the scheme was 'prepared in consultation with experts and we cannot change it overnight'.

'In fact, ours is a unique scheme in which we have decided to provide training opportunities in various sectors to dependants or nominees of those who will accept the ERS under the Social Safety Net Programme. The move is aimed at helping them get a job,' said Sunil Mitra, the principal secretary to the industrial reconstruction department.

He said the deadline for the scheme ' March 26 ' could not be extended further as the government will have to draw the grant of the UK's department for international development before March 31. 'I don't understand why hotel employees are not realising our difficulties. We may be denied the grant if we do not allot it to the employees by March 31.'

The Trinamul Congress-controlled union, which has the backing of the majority of employees, will launch a relay hunger strike from tomorrow at the hotel.

A section of Citu and Intuc leaders has supported the strike. 'We don't mind sharing the platform with the Trinamul-led union to mount a united protest,' a Citu leader said.

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