Jute strike called off, unions and employers reach accord

December 19th, 2008 - 5:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 19 (IANS) The strike at jute mills in West Bengal from Dec 1 ended Friday following a consensus reached after a two-day tripartite meeting between the central government, jute mill owners and 19 mill unions in New Delhi.An agreement was signed between the employers of jute mills and their workmen represented by Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA) chairman Sanjay Kajaria, and Ganesh Sarkar, general secretary of the National Union of Jute Workers (NUJW) and other trade unions.

Labour and employment minister Oscar Fernandes and ministry secretary Sudha Pillai were present.

“A tripartite committee comprising experts, representatives of Government of India, Government of West Bengal, representatives of workers and employers shall be constituted by Government of India immediately to study all outstanding issues and various facets of the working of the jute industry including pricing, productivity and wage structure,” the negotiators said in statement.

“This committee will submit its recommendations to ministry of labour, Government of India within eight weeks,” it added.

Workers went on strike Dec 1 as they had not been paid dearness allowance (DA) since April 2007. Around 59 jute mills, with an approximate strength of over 250,000 workers across the state, went on strike.

“It is agreed that all workmen shall be paid a sum of Rs.500 per month (for 208 hours) with effect from the date the mills re-opens as ad-hoc payment against outstanding dues,” the accord statement said.

“Workers will be granted 15 days time for reporting back to work/duty.”

“It is agreed that the period of strike shall be treated on the basis of ‘no work no pay’ without, however, affecting the continuity of the services of the workmen for the purpose of eligibility towards all statutory entitlements,” it added.

West Bengal contributes 50 percent of the total jute production worldwide.

State agriculture minister Naren De had said Wednesday that a team representing German firms that made newsprint from jute was expected soon.

If the domestic jute sector can adopt this technological know-how, it would benefit industry and the farmers, he said.

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