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West Bengal: 10,000 Workers Laid-off after Jute Mills Shut Down

According to Anadi Sahu, State Secretary of Centre of Indian Trade Unions, “management problems” led the mills to be shut down.

Around 10,000 workers have been laid-off following the reported shutting down of Hastings and North Brook jute mills in South Bengal’s Hooghly district on December 3.

The shutting down of these two mills follows the shutting down of Srirampur’s India Jute Mill and Chandannagar’s Gondalpara Mill, a few months back leading to around 6,000 mill workers losing their jobs. The Hindu reported that Sanjay Kajaria, one of the directors of Indian Jute Mills Association, owns Hastings, India Jute Mill and Gondalpara Mill.

According to the same report, the workers of Hastings, India Jute Mill and Gondalpara Mill stated that shortage of raw materials prompted the closure of the mills. North Brooke, however, had its operations shut because of workers’ unrest.

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Speaking to The Hindu, Rajesh Jaiswara, a Gondalpara mill worker said, “The owner (Sanjay Kajaria) told us that due to financial crisis the mills have no money for buying raw materials. India Jute Mill is closed for the past seven months and Gondalpara Jute Mill for the past eight months.”

He added, “The management is absolutely not capable of running any jute mill. He [Mr Kajaria] is even unable to take a loan as he is scared to disclose his property details to the banks. We had a meeting with the owner and the Labour Minister, Moloy Ghatak six to seven times to address this issue. Yet the government has not taken this matter seriously. We even suggested them to sell the mills so that we get saved from losing our jobs to which they agreed in the meeting, yet did not do anything about this matter as well.”

Anadi Sahu, the present State Secretary of Centre of Indian Trade Unions and a former minister, however, countered this, saying that shutting down of the mills was a “management problem” and observed, “It has nothing to do with the shortage of raw materials. It is an internal management problem. Firstly, they sell the raw materials in the market and tell the workers that there is no raw material. Secondly, the management wants more production but they are paying the workers extremely less and exploiting them, especially in North Brook Jute Mill.”

According to the Mill workers, Kajaria has a lengthy history of closing down his mills. The workers stated that between 2009 and 2018, Kajaria had shut down his mills as many as nine times.

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