The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM’s appeal to unions falls flat in Hind Motors

Hind Motor (Hooghly), Jan. 20: In a stubborn defiance to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s warning that militant trade unionism will not be tolerated, state Citu general secretary Chittabrata Majumder today asked the agitating workers and employees of Hindustan Motors to step up their movement till their demands were met.

At a rally organised inside the factory gates and during working hours, the Citu leader said: “If necessary, you are even free to call a strike in protest against injustice. Some people are against strikes as they supposedly affect industrial peace. But what will the workers do when their just grievances are ignored by the management' If you go for a strike, you may or may not lose your job. But the situation is such that if you do not go for a strike, you will lose your job for ever.”

Hundreds of workers staged a sit-in agitation at the plant today in protest against the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) that has trimmed the workforce from 14,000 to 8,000.

The agitators demanded medical benefits and an annual bonus. At the end of the day, they came to the labour commissioner’s office in Calcutta and submitted a memorandum.

Criticising politicians, Citu state secretary Kali Ghosh said: “What will I say about the role of political leaders. You know all of them well and their real characters. Instead of depending on trade union leaders, decide on your own the ways to fight against the management.”

The Citu, however, was defeated by the Sangrami Shramik Karmachari Union in the last election of the Hindustan Motors’ trade union.

“We will have to take a lesson from the defeat. And we required it,” said Ghosh. “Though we are not dominating the union, the management will have to call us whenever they sign an agreement. We will not allow any agreement to be signed without our consent,” he added.

“Many raise questions on why trade union movements are being organised' They say work is hit by such movements. But we say the movement is for work,” Majumder said in his address to the workers. He warned that Citu would not “keep quiet” if the VRS is meted out to employees on the pretext of a financial crisis. “The management must spell out an alternative policy,” he added.

Majumder opposed the company’s attempts at making a financial turnaround. “Modernisation is the only way out of this crisis and the management is not trying to do anything at all,” he alleged.

He also criticised the company’s alleged attempts to sell off large portions of vacant land inside the plant.

“We have kept the government posted about these developments and are ready to oppose the moves tooth and nail,” the trade union leader said. He urged the Hind Motors management to fulfil their demands. “Otherwise, we have no other option but to go in for an indefinite strike.”

District Citu president Santashree Chatterjee alleged that the Shramik Union was conniving with the management. “Their leaders gave a deputation urging the management to deduct the salaries of those attending today’s rally,” Chatterjee said.

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