The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Job loss ache for parties

Calcutta, Sept. 30: The big brother will reason with the problem child and try to save the jobs of 400 people sacked by Reliance in Bengal.

The CPM today said it would stand by the retail employees who lost their jobs because of a Reliance go-slow in the wake of protests spearheaded by the Forward Bloc.

“We are deeply concerned over the fate of 400 employees who were sacked by Reliance Retail. We shall stand by these employees,” CPM central committee member Benoy Konar said from a nursing home where he has been admitted for surgery.

Asked what he meant by “backing” the employees, the CPM leader said the party would prevail upon the Bloc leadership to stop its violent campaign against Reliance Fresh outlets. “We must initiate a dialogue with the Bloc leadership at the earliest,” he added.

The Bloc said talks were “most welcome” but ruled out any change in the party’s “strategy” — its chosen word for vandalism.

“Our supporters had vandalised some of the stores by breaking glass panes. This is our party’s strategy to prevent Reliance from entering retail markets,” said Nihar Roychowdhury, the chairman of the Bloc’s Calcutta district committee. “We shall not stop our agitation against the Reliance company, come what may,” he added.

The CPM had been trying to persuade the Bloc to agree to the Reliance retail venture in the state. The dismissals —seen as a pressure tactic by industry analysts — have added a new dimension as no political party would like to be blamed for job losses.

The CPI, which is also opposed to the Reliance foray but is against vandalism, said as much, calling upon the CPM to negotiate with the Bloc without delay.

“We were shocked to learn that Reliance had sacked 400 employees. The Left Front’s avowed policy is to protect the interests of the working class,” said Ranjit Guha, CPI leader and secretary of its labour arm, Aituc.

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