THE workers of Kanoria Jute Mill in Uluberia, Howrah, have already learnt what the much-trumpeted ‘change’ means in West Bengal.
The mill opened after two years of closure on August 22. Shiv Shankar Pasari, the promoter personally accompanied state labour minister Purnendu Basu in a hyped ‘opening’ of the mill. Purnendu Basu assured Kanoria workers on August 22 that within one year all problems would be resolved through discussion and not movement. Since then, 2700 workers of Kanoria Jute Mill were denied their jobs as they were not allowed to enter the mill itself. Only 318 workers, according to the mill attendance register, are working for the maintenance of machines in the mill. Rest of the 3041 workers are stunned at the unique way of treachery.
This is causing a further problem. The Left Front government initiated a monthly allowance for the workers of closed factories. The workers of Kanoria Jute Mill were also getting that allowance. As the mill is opened officially, the payment of this allowance may be closed, denying them the meager source of livelihood. Meanwhile, no dues including provident fund have been paid. To make things worse, the promoter of the mill has demolished the bathroom in the labour line. This, according to the workers, is an ominous sign.
Even those who have been chosen to enter have been recruited by local Trinamul leaders. They terrorised the mill area. Sponsored by the promoter Shiv Shankar Pasari, these TMC leaders have appointed some unskilled labourers from Sijberia, Howrah, in exchange of their unconditional loyalty to the Trinamul Congress. One of the leading trade union leaders of the mill, Prafulla Chakraborty, once a very close associate of the TMC, has now been ousted and arrested. The ‘misdeed’ he perpetrated was that he sharply criticised the ‘labour policy’ of the TMC government. He also slammed the government and TMC leaders for creating autocracy and hooligan-raj in the mill. The government however rewarded their electoral associate and the leader of Sangrami Shramik Union Prafulla Chakraborty, stunning even TMC-spiked intellectuals by putting him behind the bars under fake allegation.
The CITU while condemning the situation at Kanoria Jute Mill demanded immediate release of Prafulla Chakraborty. In a statement, the CITU Howrah district president Nemai Samanta said the workers are being deprived of their legal rights by sheer force. The government is also arresting Left workers under false cases, thus trying to curb the workers’ movement and mass movement in the state.
People's Democracy, November 06, 2011