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Shuffle in TMC trade wing

Calcutta, Aug. 10: Bengal Trinamul trade union president Dola Sen has been stripped of the power to give affiliation to labour arm units and a national committee led by former Naxalite leader Pradip Banerjee has been formed to perform the task, party sources said.

The move comes amid murmurs of discontent in the INTTUC over the functioning of the trade union.

Although no formal announcement has been made, the Trinamul sources said Mamata Banerjee decided to give some of Sen’s responsibilities to Pradip Banerjee to streamline the process of affiliation to the INTTUC.

“This is a welcome change,” a Trinamul leader said.

A union with at least 11 members in any factory or establishment can seek affiliation from the INTTUC and engage in trade union activities such as wage negotiations with the management and efforts towards improving working conditions.

“There were reports that old INTTUC units were being derecognised and parallel units were being promoted by the state leadership of our labour arm. So Mamata decided to set up the national committee with Pradipda at the helm and assign it the task of handling affiliations,” another Trinamul leader said.

“Mamata was unhappy with reports of militant trade union activities in some establishments and wanted to send a strong message by changing the power structure of the INTTUC,” he added.

The leader said the decision was taken around a month ago but was not made public to avoid a controversy.

Pradip Banerjee became close to Mamata during the Singur anti-land acquisition agitation. He was the convener of the Trinamul-led Krishijomi Raksha Committee.

While Sen and Purnendu Bose, the labour minister, played a prominent role in the agitation, Pradip Banerjee maintained a low profile.

This is the third time in three years that Mamata has changed the INTTUC’s leadership structure.

First, she removed veteran trade union leader Sovandeb Chattopadhyay from the post of state INTTUC president in mid-2009 and made him the national chairman, leaving him with little control over the daily activities of the union.

Bose replaced Chattopadhyay and continued till he became labour minister.

In June, Sen was made the state INTTUC president despite strong opposition from a section in the party.

Sen refused comment today.

Pradip Banerjee said: “Please don’t read too much into this. It has been decided that from now on, only the national committee will give affiliation to new units.”