Work came to a halt at a bought-leaf factory (BLF) that processes tea in the Rajganj block of Jalpaiguri district since Thursday evening.
Ruchi Agro Products Pvt Ltd which runs the standalone BLF filed complaints with police and the block administration, alleging that local INTTUC leaders had prevented workers from joining duties without any reason.
Leaders of the trade union affiliated to the Trinamul Congress denied the charges and said the management had closed down the unit on its own.
“When the second shift was about to start on Thursday evening, some people stopped workers from joining duties. This morning, we found a flag of the INTTUC planted at the entrance to the factory. Some workers who arrived to join duties were not allowed to enter. This has affected our production,” said Nabajit Dey, the manager of Ruchi Agro Products Pvt Ltd.
The factory was opened at Schoolpara in Fatapukur in October last year. These days, 10,000 to 12,000 kilos of green tea leaves are processed at the unit a day. The BLF employees over 25 contractual workers and more than 10 other staff members also.
Tapan Dey, a joint general secretary of the Terai Dooars Plantation Workers’ Union that is backed by the INTTUC, said the management had halted the work at the BLF.
“The management makes workers serve for 12 hours a days but pays less wages. A labourer had suffered injuries during work three months ago, but he was not given compensation. The workers wanted to form a union and so they were at a meeting with us yesterday. We didn’t stop anyone from working. It was the management that stopped the production. We want the factory to function again,” said Dey.
Surajit Paul, the general secretary of the North Bengal Industries’ Association, said workers could form a trade union and submit a charter of demands to the management.
“This is a common process in any industry and none has an issue with that. But stopping workers from joining their duties is undesirable and affects the work environment. INTTUC leaders should realise that tealeaf is a perishable item and needs to be processed in due time or else, the management would suffer losses.”
Rajganj Trinamul MLA Khageswar Roy said: “I am looking into the issue. We will see that the impasse is resolved.”