The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha power pat for Citu

Malda, Dec. 29: Barely 48 hours after a top Citu leader called for “crippling strikes” in key sectors to protest the Centre’s “anti-labour” industrial policy, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee asked the trade unions not to “misuse the power of strikes”.

Addressing the state conference of the Citu-affiliated West Bengal State Electricity Board Workers’ Union in the district headquarters, Bhattacharjee said the government had “empowered” the unions in the state. “The trade unions, in no other state, enjoy so many rights. But the unions should see that power is not misused.”

Bhattacharjee said he had told the unions to make sure “no disturbance” was created in industrial units. But at the same time, the chief minister was all praise for the Citu. He said the trade union had hardly caused industrial disturbance.

“Except one or two stray incidents in jute industry, we have not had any problems with workers. The jute industry problems were taken care of.” He added that no labour disputes had surfaced in the Haldia and Salt Lake industrial zones.

Inaugurating the conference on Friday, Citu general secretary Chittabrata Majumdar had asked the workers to “prepare themselves to shut down” vital services to “create a crisis” at the Centre.

The chief minister said an organised campaign was being carried out on the “industrial unrest” to deter investment in the state. “But the ground reality is different.”

The state has made major strides in agriculture and is now focusing on agro-based industry, said the chief minister. “The government has ensured that the farmers did not lose their money because of a glut.”

“In Malda, the prices of mangoes used to fall below that of potatoes. This won’t happen any longer. We have set up export zones for mango here. Similar zones have been set up for pineapples, lichi and potatoes in Siliguri, Murshidabad and Hooghly. This will not only generate revenue, but create jobs in rural Bengal,” said Bhattacharjee.

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