BMS, CITU to join hands in strike at jute mills

Published - February 25, 2019 08:56 pm IST - Kolkata

About 21 trade unions including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [RSS]-affiliated Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh [BMS] and Congress’ labour arm Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) plan an indefinite strike from March 1 in Bengal’s jute mills. The ruling TMC is not participating.

Out of 78 jute mills in the country, 61 are in West Bengal.

Anadi Sahu, general secretary of the West Bengal unit of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the labour arm of the CPI(M), told The Hindu, “The Sangh Parivar has many affiliates…but we are working together for the interest of the jute workers.” Mr. Sahu pointed out that after Narendra Modi came to power BMS “did not participate in the general strike against the Centre on January 8 and 9 this year.”

Sanjay Kumar Sah, secretary of BMS’s State unit, said:“Irrespective of political ideologies trade unions will have to unite for the jute mill workers, whose plight has been ignored by the State government.”

The State’s jute mills are plagued by routine closures. In response to a question by Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi in Parliament, earlier this month, the Ministry of Textiles revealed that 55 jute mills were closed in the past four years. Of these, 39 were in West Bengal, while about a dozen are shut for at least three years. The mills are located on both banks of the Hooghly, mainly in four districts.

Both Mr. Sahu and Mr. Sah said that despite growing demand for jute in the domestic market, workers in the mills are surviving on meagre wages. One of the demands of the trade unions is that the wages of jute mill workers be increased to a minimum of ₹18,000 a month.

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