The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Market tips for unions

Haldia, Feb. 18: As he flagged off Rs 2,350 crore worth of projects at Haldia, the chief minister today explained to voters why land must be found for new industries and why militant trade unionism was counter-productive.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee touched on the three thorny issues worrying his government ahead of the polls: joblessness, industrial relations and the anguish of those displaced by industrialisation.

In a quick tour of the port city, the chief minister inaugurated a truck manufacturing factory and laid the foundation stones for a sugar refinery and a coke oven plant. At each of these events, he tried to explain how the market works in a globalised world.

“The trade unions must realise it is a competitive world where quality and productivity matter. One can’t afford to lose a single day,” Bhattacharjee said.

But he sounded apologetic over land acquisition for industries, an issue on which the Left fears a possible backlash from rural voters. “We have paid compensation as much as possible,” Bhattacharjee said. “Industrialisation cannot happen at the cost of the common people.”

He quickly added that new industries mean new jobs. “Hopefully, many of those who have lost their land would find jobs if the industries prosper.”

He found rather unusual backers: firebrand Left trade union leader and MP Laxman Seth and state Congress chief Pranab Mukherjee. “We’ll give full support to the industrial houses,” Seth said.

“I congratulate the chief minister for stressing the need for (industrial peace),” Mukherjee said.

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