Labour minister apologises for remark on CEO killing (Lead)

September 24th, 2008 - 6:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiNew Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) India’s Labour and Employment Minister Wednesday rendered “apologies” for his remarks on the lynching of L.K. Choudhary, the CEO of the Indian subsidiary of an Italian firm by retrenched employees in Greater Noida Monday afternoon.“My profound apologies to everybody who feels hurt. I am sorry,” Minister Oscar Fernandes told reporters here, adding that his remarks had been misunderstood.

“I would like to put an end to this chapter, and I say sorry,” said the minister.

Fernandes, a senior leader of the Congress party led by Sonia Gandhi, whose native country incidentally happens to be Italy, had Tuesday referred to simmering resentment among the contract employees of Cerlikon-Graziano Transmissions India.

Fernandes had Tuesday warned company managements not to push employees, and had advised compassion while dealing with issues such as minimum wages for the employees.

Fernandes’ statement evoked sharp reaction from the industry chambers.

Choudhary was lynched by about 150 workers, who had been retrenched, who had barged into the factory premises in block 14 of Udyog Kendra in Greater Noida.

Said Rajeev Chandrasekhar of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci): “I can’t believe someone in the government is condoning something like this. An innocent man has died. I am frankly flabbergasted. I am shocked.”

India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath Wednesday termed Choudhary’s killing as “unfortunate” and hoped the tragic occurrence would not mar the country’s “destination friendly” image.

“The violence at Greater Noida-based multinational company Cerlikon- Graziano Transmissions India Pvt. Ltd., is unfortunate and completely at variance from the Indian culture and tradition of peace,” Kamal Nath said in a statement here.

“This stray tragic occurrence would not be allowed to mar India’s position as an investment-friendly destination where our states compete with each other to be investor-friendly,” he added.

“In our society, labour unrest has abundant legal forms of expression as also the pursuance of grievances. This terrible incident is very unfortunate and we strongly condemn it. The legal course will be followed and all culprits brought to book,” the commerce minister said.

According to an estimate of the prime minister’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC), India is likely to attract foreign investment of $23.8 billion in the current fiscal.

Greater Noida, some 40 kms away from the Indian capital, is an industrial township developed by the provincial government of Uttar Pradesh, to attract leading global and domestic firms to set up their units.

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