Dunlop reopens, doubts linger

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  • Published 26.09.14

Sept. 25: Dunlop today reopened its Sahaganj plant in Hooghly after a three-year hiatus, amid attempts by the government to claim credit and doubts by industry observers over the unit’s future.

“Lots of factories have shut shop in Bengal over the past few months. After I took over the labour department, I noticed that most of the closures were on account of small issues that could be resolved through discussions. That’s what this government has been trying to achieve,” labour minister Malay Ghatak said at Sahaganj.

Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee, who also attended the reopening, tried to highlight the government’s efforts in turning around the state of industry in Bengal. “We must all work together to achieve that.”

Work at the plant would begin tomorrow, according to the Ruia Group that owns Dunlop.

Group chairman Pawan K. Ruia promised to clear over four instalments the dues of 32 workers who have died since the Sahaganj plant shut down on October 8, 2011. He also said the plant’s 1,369 workers — past and present — would get their arrears of Rs 25,000 each cleared over five instalments every four months.

The plant currently has 555 workers on its rolls.

Industry observers, however, said today’s opening of the plant could be another of the Ruia Group’s “numerous” failed attempts to make the plant operational.

“History has not been on the Ruia Group’s side…. There has been no genuine effort to make the plant operational and countless promises of clearing dues have remained unfulfilled. Let us see if this time it’s any different,” said a senior labour department official.

Neither the Dunlop’s Sahaganj factory nor its Ambattur (Chennai) unit has seen full-fledged operations since Ruia took over the plants from Manu Chabbria in 2005.