West Bengal govt calls for tripartite meet to resolve jute industry impasse; sector has not seen major wage revision since 2011

Kolkata: The West Bengal government has called for a tripartite meeting to resolve the impasse between the jute mill owners and the workers' trade unions, which have threatened to go on an indefinite strike from 1 March over their unfulfilled demands.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

A notice issued by the state labour department earlier this week invited the jute unions on 18 February to discuss their charter of demands with the mill owners. Earlier, the meeting was scheduled to be held on Thursday.

All trade unions in the jute sector, barring the Indian National Trinamool Trade Union Congress, have agreed to join the strike from 1 March to press for their demands, including wage revision and implementation of Minimum Wages Act. The jute sector employs over two lakh workers in more than 60 mills in the state.

The strike, if not prevented, may have an impact on the vote bank of political parties across the jute belts of Howrah, North 24 Parganas and Hooghly districts. The general election is due this summer.

The jute industry has not seen any major wage revision after 2011. The state government, in the last tripartite meeting held on January 17, had decided to give an interim relief of Rs 70, raising the workers' wage to Rs 327 per day till the new wage agreement was finalised. The unions, however, contended that the interim benefit was a unilateral decision of the state government.

A former chairman of Indian Jute Mills Association, a body of mill owners, said paying anything more than Rs 327 would not be possible as "margins are already under pressure in the jute business".

"The government should take steps to ensure that there are no disruptions. Strikes will only help the central government to dilute mandatory packaging order in favour of the plastic industry," he said.

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Updated Date: Feb 14, 2019 11:13:02 IST

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