The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hotel union sings CPM tune, at last
Goala: Reined in'

Calcutta, April 17: The Citu leaders of the ailing Great Eastern Hotel, who had stood firm against their state leadership's decision to privatise it, have finally relented.

The hotel unit of the CPM's trade union arm today decided to step in to ensure that its members accepted the early retirement scheme, the second deadline for which expires tomorrow. The government has, however, decided to extend the deadline.

'We shall shortly initiate a dialogue with our members in the hotel so that they can accept the scheme without delay. I know that they are dead against the scheme but it is, after all, the government's decision. We have to see how it can be accepted,' Rajdeo Goala, the president of the Citu-affiliated Great Eastern Hotel Employees' and Workers' Union, said this evening.

Goala, also a key functionary of the CPM's Calcutta district committee, said the impasse over the scheme could be resolved through discussions with the employees.

Taking a cue from Goala, Pravat Samir Roy, the Citu secretary at Great Eastern, said he would see to it that the union members responded to the scheme realising the government's compulsion to privatise the hotel.

'We know that the employees have been agitating against the scheme. But in a day or two, we will have to fall in line... At this juncture, we want the scheme to be modified a bit so that those who have many years to retire from service can benefit,' Roy said, adding that 'the gesture would also help us win the employees' confidence'.

Sources said the duo was left with no option but to pressure the trade union's hotel members after state Citu president Shyamal Chakraborty made it clear that the leadership will not support their agitation against the scheme.

The tourism department is set to grant another extension to the ERS deadline after a review meeting tomorrow. The renewed ERS offer, in which the government gave 13 days to the employees to apply for the scheme, expires tomorrow.

'We will have to see how the employees react to the scheme after its deadline is further extended tomorrow. I am confident that more employees will avail of the scheme after the extension,' said Jagannath Bag, the hotel member secretary and chief executive.

So far, 10 employees have picked the ERS forms and six have deposited them. Only two forms were collected from the hotel ' a confirmation of reports that the unions were a deterrent for employees willing to accept the offer.

In the 13-day extension, four were holidays and the counter from where most of the forms were picked ' the tourism directorate office on Brabourne Road ' remained out of bounds. Moreover, the ERS did not enjoy the trade union's blessings then.

However, mayor Subrata Mukherjee, the state Intuc president, has lined up an agitation at the hotel tomorrow.

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