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Message: one factory, one union

- Multiple Trinamul unions create confusion and squabbles in Durgapur-Asansol belt

Durgapur, Dec. 18: The INTTUC leadership in Durgapur has said it will end the spawning of multiple party-affiliated unions in the same factory to prevent squabbles. The move comes two days after a Jai Balaji Industries employee was allegedly assaulted by INTTUC workers.

The INTTUC leadership in Durgapur said it would inform workers which is the “recognised” union in each factory.

District INTTUC president Prabhat Chatterjee said: “There will be one recognised union in a factory. We will not tolerate factions. I know that in many plants in the district, more than one union exists.”

Industrialists in the region welcomed the move.

The Federation of South Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industries general secretary, R.P. Khaitan, said: “We need a peaceful and healthy ambience in factories for better productivity. Incidents such as the one at Jai Balaji are not welcome. It (INTTUC move) will be a relief for us as it is impossible to deal with so many factions.”

The move comes at a time the Trinamul leadership is taking steps across the state to end factional rivalry in the union and streamline the procedure of granting recognition.

Mamata Banerjee has asked trade union leaders to ensure only one Trinamul-affiliated union operates in each factory. Even at the state secretariat, Trinamul-affiliated organisations were merged into one on the chief minister’s orders. Mamata had also set up a committee to look into the affiliation process.

The steps were taken after complaints of intra-union rivalry reached the Trinamul chief.

Almost all small, medium and large factories in the Durgapur-Asansol industrial hub have multiple trade unions affiliated to INTTUC, creating problems for the managements that are not sure of whom to approach.

“Often, we have to call rival INTTUC-backed unions to meetings on labour-related issues. The faction leaders often quarrel and even fight on the factory premises, hampering production. The situation was not so critical before the Assembly polls. After the elections, Trinamul’s labour arm has become stronger than Citu,” a senior executive of a private sponge iron factory in Raniganj said.

Sources in Graphite India Ltd in Durgapur said three INTTUC-affiliated unions had come up in the factory in the past one year. The three unions have affiliation certificates with purported signatures of labour leader Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, INTTUC state president Dola Sen and union state general secretary Pradeep Banerjee, respectively. The three unions have separate committees and functionaries.

“The three factions often clash over control of plant workers. Sometimes, a faction forces us to accept its demands, which is not acceptable to another one. We feel helpless,” an executive said.

The situation at the Jai Balaji unit is limping back to normal after group joint managing director Rajiv Jajodia’s “peace meeting” with district INTTUC president Chatterjee and Durgapur mayor Apurba Mukherjee yesterday.

Chatterjee and Mukherjee lead the two main INTTUC factions in Durgapur.

“The situation is normal in my plant now. All our officials have joined work but the assaulted general manager is taking rest at home as he still has pain in his head and shoulder,” said Niranjan Gourisaria, the senior vice-president of the plant.

However, no one has been arrested so far.

Trinamul has distanced itself from the key accused in the assault on general manager Arun Thatoi, spilling the beans on the faction-ridden labour politics in the region.

Chatterjee has claimed that the accused, Ashim Pramanik, has no links with INTTUC or Trinamul. But Pramanik, absconding since an FIR was lodged against him, has claimed he has been general secretary of the unit four of Jai Balaji since 2010 and has been re-elected this year.