People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 23

June 06, 2004

         Mill Owners Close Down Jute Mills, Flout Agreement


SEVERAL of the owners of jute mills across Bengal have resorted to issuing closure notices. The Kamarhati jute mill is the latest victim of this decision.  The various instances of suspension of work is related to the ill-gotten attempt by the mill management to increase the per head workload and to employ workers at lower wages.


This is in complete violation of the tripartite agreement signed by the jute mill owners association along with the Bengal Left Front government’s labour department and the TUs. The workers alone, organised under the TUs, have carried forward the task of enhancing production in each jute mill.


Last January, a ten-day-long strike of jute workers ended in the signature of the tripartite agreement.  Within four months, no less than ten jute mills saw suspension of work notice displayed by the management.  The mills are: Auckland, Kamarhati, Gouripore, Budge budge, Surah, Kanoria, Ludlow, Fort William, Victoria, and Delta.  Seven more jute mills face the same fate.


The jute mill owners, according to the CITU-affiliated BCMU leader, Gobindo Guha, are assiduously following the footsteps of the rejected and discredited NDA régime’s policies of “labour reforms.”  Yet, the production gives the lie flying in the face of the untruths being bandied about regarding production. On a yearly basis, the combined annual production rate currently standing of 50 mills is 16 lakh ton. 


The agreement had clearly mentioned that one-third of the production should be linked to the wages.  Workers were also assured of getting the dearness allowance.  The IJMA, the mill owners’ association has in a letter to the state government has denied its ability to provide DA. 


The management have also misappropriated the amounts of PF, gratuity, and pension funds of the workers.  This includes Rs 120 crore worth of gratuity and Rs 97 crore of PF.  One mill owner has been indicted in a High Court judgement over his misappropriation of Rs 100 crore worth of the workers’ PF and pension.  The mill owner managed to evade the PF commissioner’s office by moving High Court and getting a prayer sanctioned that he would repay the amount by instalments.  Guha said that the jute mill workers remained united in their effort to ensure that the jute mills survived the owners’ onslaught and made further progress.