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Govt plea to retain workers at Howrah

Calcutta, July 17: The Mamata Banerjee government today urged Shalimar Paints to retain the 138 workers at the Howrah plant, objecting to the company’s proposal to shift them to other units.

At a meeting between the state government and the company management at the New Secretariat today, labour minister Malay Ghatak and Howrah MLA Arup Roy, also the agriculture marketing minister, told Shalimar to reply to the state administration’s suggestion within seven days.

“The ministers have urged us to keep all 138 workers of the Howrah plant here. We paid their salaries in the past four months although there was no production at the Howrah unit since the fire in March. It is not possible for us to keep paying them by retaining them at the Howrah unit,” a Shalimar source said.

According to company sources, Shalimar has proposed to relocate the workers to the Nashik, Sikandrabad and the upcoming Chennai units.

“No clause in the nature of job would be changed. But the government is putting pressure on us to keep the workers here and pay them,” the source said.

The sources said the ministers promised to help Shalimar transfer the 16 clerical staff members but added that the 138 workers should not be transferred.

“The proposal is not viable. We have 16 clerical staff members at the Howrah unit. We want to shift all 154 employees from the Howrah plant,” another company source said.

Minister Roy said: “We will hold another meeting next week. We have told the company to let us know whether it would accept our proposal.”

A government official present at the meeting said the two ministers told the Shalimar representatives that it would be difficult for the workers to relocate to another city with a monthly salary of Rs 5,000-Rs 6,000.