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Mill workers call strike from April 23

Cachar paper mill

Silchar: Several unions and organisations will sit on an indefinite hunger strike in front of Cachar paper mill on April 23 to press for payment of pending salaries of the mill's contractual workers.

Cachar paper mill, the only major industrial undertaking in south Assam's Barak Valley, is located at Panchgram, around 24km from here.

Manabendra Chakraborty, president of the Cachar Paper Project Workers' Union, on Friday said some funds were released recently but payment was given only to the employees and not to contractual workers.

He said the contractual workers have been suffering financially too and demanded that their salaries be cleared at the earliest.

"The contractual workers have not received their salaries for the past 20 months. They are unable to meet their daily needs. Moreover, a large number of contractual workers were suspended recently, adding insult to injury," he said.

A notice for suspension of around 400 contractual workers was issued on March 31 evening. It came into effect on April 1.

Chakraborty said by suspending the workers, the government had proved its apathy towards them.

He said the mill should be revived as soon as possible. He said they would not withdraw their strike till their demands were fulfilled, failing which he threatened to intensify their protest.

Supriyo Bhattacharjee, general secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, said the government should take immediate steps to solve the issue.

"We will support the strike and intensify our protests, if needed," he said.

A senior official of Hindustan Paper Corporation (HPC) said funds had not been released yet for payment to the contractual workers. He said the mill authority had contacted the HPC headquarters in Calcutta and necessary steps would be taken soon. Some amount of the pending salaries of the contractual workers will be given by this month, he added. Assam BJP spokesperson Rajdeep Roy said he would speak to chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal soon to know about the status of payments.

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