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High court cracks whip on Citu

Calcutta, Nov. 9: Calcutta High Court today rapped the state government on its knuckles for failing to rein in militant trade unionism sponsored by Citu.

'Provide as many cops as needed to remove agitating workers staging blockades,' the court said while hearing a case relating to the Shalimar unit of Champdani Jute Mills in Howrah, where employees affiliated to Citu are obstructing work and stopping officials from entering the premises.

Justice Jayanta Biswas directed the Howrah superintendent of police 'to ensure easy entry and exit of the management employees as well as materials needed to run the company smoothly'.

The workers have been staging the dharna in front of the unit's office gate for the last eight months.

The judge also ordered that the police would have to provide protection to the company's management as long as needed. But the cost of deployment of cops would have to be borne by the company.

The management had moved a Howrah court seeking police protection for employees and an executive magistrate had directed Shibpur police to send a team, the lawyers appearing for the firm said. But the police did not take any step, they added.

The management then moved the high court and 'Justice Pranab Kumar Chatterjee on May 16 directed the police to remove the agitating workers from the factory gate', the lawyers said. But the cops ignored this directive as well.

Today's order came after Dilip Kumar Ghosh, the manager of Champdani Jute Mills, moved a contempt petition in the high court.

Arunava Ghosh and Anjan Bhattacharya, appearing for the company, told the court that trouble started in March this year after a section of workers placed a charter of demands, including pay hike.

'The demands were under the management's consideration. But the leader of the Champdani Industries Workers' and Staff Union, during a demonstration, assaulted the manager of the company. When he informed his superiors, the management served a showcause on the union members,' the lawyers said.

The union then laid siege to the office gate, they added.

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