Dunlop shut down: no work, no pay - Workers blamed for resisting salary cut
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- Published 1.12.08
|Dunlop workers read the closure notice at the factory gate on Sunday. Picture by Ananda Das|
Nov. 30: The Dunlop management today declared suspension of work in Bengal’s Sahagunj, rendering nearly 1,200 workers jobless.
A spokesperson for the company said the decision was taken “after failure of rounds of prolonged discussions with the labour unions”.
A notice declaring the stop-work was pasted on the factory gate early this morning. It said: “The company has no liability to pay and will not pay any wages/salaries to the workers during the period of suspension of operation.”
The management had earlier stopped production and offered Rs 2,000 a month to the workers citing a cash crunch because of the global credit crisis, but the unions rejected the deal.
When the unions approached the state la- bour minister, the management insisted on the pay-cut agreement first and the talks broke down.
The unions had also wanted the government to be party to any deal with the management, but labour department officials said it was not possible as the industrial disputes act barred such intervention unless workers were laid off or the plant was shut down.
Now, with the suspension of work declared, the government can intervene directly.
Labour minister Mrinal Banerjee said he was aware of the development. “We will first go through the suspension-of-work notice tomorrow and decide on our course of action,” he said.
At Sahagunj, about 45km from Calcutta, some 100 workers led by Trinamul Congress leaders demonstrated near the eastern gate of the factory and blocked GT Road for about three hours from 10am.
The Citu and Intuc-led unions, however, said they were expecting the suspension of work. “That is why we had initially wanted to sign the pay-cut agreement. But we could not in the face of workers’ protests,” said Dipankar Roy, general secretary of the Citu union.
Hooghly district Citu president Santasree Chatterjee demanded that the notice be withdrawn but, like Citu, Intuc leaders, too, knew that it was coming.
“The suspension of work could have been averted at this stage had we been allowed to sign the agreement,” said Intuc’s Bijon Kanti Sarkar. But he expected “direct government intervention” now that the suspension of work had been declared.
In the notice, the management blamed “some vested interests and a small fraction of workers” for resisting the pay-cut agreement.
The management also accused some outsiders and a section of workers of creating disturbance at the factory gate and raising anti-management slogans and threatening management staff. Fifteen workers have been named as trouble creators and named in the notice.