The Telegraph
Friday , June 22 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Labour turf war at Durgapur mall

Durgapur, June 21: A mall in Durgapur has become the latest theatre of turf war between a Trinamul Congress union and Citu.

Seven Citu-backed contract workers who were taken off duty were beaten up today by alleged Trinamul supporters when they went to Pantaloons with a request to the store management to be reinstated.

When the retrenched workers arrived at Junction Mall, in which Pantaloons occupies three floors, the INTTUC activists allegedly tried to stop them from entering.

The Citu workers, who used to work in the housekeeping department, managed to enter the mall and went to the second-floor office of the manager (administration) of the outlet, Srikanta Chowdhury.

Soon, around 50 Trinamul activists dragged them down and allegedly kicked and punched them.

“The INTTUC activists demanded to know why we had come to the store even though we had been sacked yesterday. They told us that our presence would hamper the business of the company, and assaulted us,” alleged Dipak Chattaraj, one of the workers.

He said the INTTUC workers told them they would be reinstated if they switched to the Trinamul union.

The retrenched workers claimed police patrolling the area did nothing to save them.

An INTTUC leader claimed that representatives of both unions had held discussions with the management on job prospects before the civic polls. The claim could not be confirmed with the management, which was not available for comment.

Saumitra Dutta, the Durgapur head of the Calcutta-based Visual Securas Ltd that provides workers to Pantaloons, said: “The Pantaloons management wrote to us saying that they did not want 15 of the 44 workers we provided. So, seven workers were taken off duty yesterday.”

Raju Chatterjee, a local Trinamul youth wing leader, said: “We had told the Pantaloons authorities not to lay off workers in the run-up to the civic polls. We had told them that if the company wanted to make changes, only those workers whose performance was not up to the mark should be asked to leave.” “The authorities terminated seven workers as part of their downsizing programme. What is wrong in that?” he added.

Pantaloons sources, however, said Chatterjee had told them at a meeting that only workers owing allegiance to Citu should be removed. Chatterjee denied the charge. “I had held no such meeting.”