The Jessop factory in Dum Dum. (Sanat Kumar Sinha)
May 15: Jessop & Company Limited today declared suspension of operations at its Dum Dum factory, alleging large-scale indiscipline, regular theft of equipment and sustained agitation by a section of workers among other reasons.
A statement pasted on the factory gate today read: “While the management is evaluating all ways and means for a sustainable operationů large-scale indiscipline of the workforce in a concerted manner coupled with external factors such as local anti-socials and outside miscreants from the surrounding locality nowhere connected to the company have disrupted activities to such an extent that it has affected the very safety and security of the managerial personnel andů the day to day smooth running of the plantů.
“The management has no other option than declaring ‘Suspension Of Operations’ at its Dum Dum Works.”
The Jessop statement added that the engineering company was not liable to pay wages to its 650-odd employees during the suspension period and would “review” its decision if the workers promised to be disciplined.
Finding the gates locked, the 650-odd workers today blocked Jessore Road near Airport gate No. 1 for about 30 minutes from 9.30am before police persuaded them to move.
The workers alleged that the company had not been paying them salaries since November last year, when owner Pawan K. Ruia wrote to labour minister Purnendu Bose about his decision to close down the Dum Dum unit because of continuous losses.
Since then, union members backed by Trinamul and the CPM have been holding frequent demonstrations outside the factory gates.
“The management refuses to meet us for talks and complains to the police when we hold peaceful agitations outside the gates,” said Srikumar Banerjee, the leader of the Trinamul-run union.
He alleged that the company was selling off assets, a charge the firm has denied.
The agitating employees had met minister Bose several times since November seeking his intervention, following which two labour department representatives were sent to the company yesterday.
“The representatives asked the authorities for salary slips, attendance registers and other important documents, which the management failed to produce. The management had told them to come today. But the officials found the factory gates locked,” Bose said.
The minister added that the government had called a meeting at the office of the Barrackpore labour commissioner next Monday. “If the management does not turn up, we will approach the court.”