Kolkata, Jan 18 (PTI) Nine major trade unions have jointly written to Union Textile Minister Piyush Goyal drawing his attention to the crises plaguing the jute industry that are putting the livelihood of workers at stake.
In a recent letter, the unions mentioned rampant lockout or suspension of work in jute mills of West Bengal and sought speedy action to protect the livelihood of mill workers, growers, and others associated with the industry.
“We have sent a letter seeking Union Textile Minister Piyush Goyal’s intervention,” Bengal Chatkal Mazdoor Union general secretary Anadi Sahu told PTI.
The workers are in very bad shape financially in the last two years due to non-payment of wages during lockdown, price rise of essential commodities, and frequent lockout/suspension of work in several mills, the workers’ representatives said in the letter.
The unions that have jointly written the letter to the minister include the CITU, INTUC, AITUC, BMS, and the HMS.
“Jute mill employers have, in the meantime, declared lockout/suspension of work in a number of mills in West Bengal and thereby forced more or less one lakh workers out of employment, mainly on the ground of non-availability of raw jute, the price of which has been capped at Rs 6,500 per quintal by the central government,” the letter said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also been apprised of the development.
The Centre had turned down the request of jute mills to revise the raw jute fair price to Rs 7,200 per quintal in line with the current domestic and international prices.
“…the trade unions have always demanded monopoly purchase of raw jute directly from the jute growers through JCI or its agencies at a profitable price and canalisation to mills as per mill’s requirement on cash payment to ensure the smooth running of mills and supply of orders,” the letter read.
Claiming that raw jute is not lying with jute growers at the moment as they do not have hoarding capacity, the unions said raw jute is therefore under the control of hoarders, employers, and their agents.
Since jute mill workers are in no way responsible for random lockout or suspension of work in mills, therefore they are entitled to lay-off wages, the letter said.
Without seeking revision of the fair raw jute price set by the Jute Commissioner, the trade unions urged the government to set up a machinery by the Jute Commissioner for monopoly purchase of raw jute directly from jute growers, through its agencies, to combat the crisis in the future.
They also demanded payment of lay-off wages to all affected workers for lockout/suspension of work and ensure payment of all dues to the workers towards provident fund, gratuity, and bonus. PTI BSM MM MM
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