No respite in sight for workers of Mysore Paper Mills

The workers of Mysore Paper Mills have been demanding that the State government either resume production at the earliest or announce voluntary retirement scheme.— FILE PHOTO  

Though the indefinite protest launched by the workers of the Mysore Paper Mills (MPM), a public sector unit in Bhadravati, completes one year on November 22, it seems there is no respite in sight for the problems faced by them.

The workers have demanded that the State government either resume production at MPM at the earliest or to announce voluntary retirement scheme (VRS). According to sources, the State government is planning to disinvest its stake in the firm and operate it with a private party on joint venture basis. However, prior to going for disinvestment, the workforce would be trimmed through VRS.

According to an estimate prepared by the management of the firm, Rs. 376 crore is needed for implementation of VRS.

C.S. Shivamurthy, president of MPM Workers’ Association, told The Hindu that the State government has taken the opinion of Law and Labour departments for the VRS. The approval from the Department of Finance is awaited for the proposal on VRS, he said.

It may be mentioned here that the Central Pollution Control Board had directed the management of MPM to stop production on December 14, 2014, citing the alleged failure by the firm to abide by the laws related to environment pollution. The management of MPM had approached the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal(NGT) against this order. Satisfied with the measures taken by the management to control environment pollution, NGT had closed the case in March 2016 and thereby the decks to resume production were also cleared. However, citing the loss incurred by the firm, the State government has refused to resume production.

The accumulated loss of the firm as on March 2015 is at Rs. 535 crore. MPM has a total workforce of 2,400 that includes 1,100 permanent workers and 1,300 workers serving on contract basis. As the production has come to a halt now, the management has sent around 2,000 workers on mandatory leave in November 2015.

Mr. Shivamurthy said that at present a paltry sum is being paid as salary-in-advance for the workers sent on mandatory leave. According to an estimate, Rs. 25 crore working capital is required to resume production. The amount will be used to purchase coal and chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, caustic soda and alum. If the production is resumed, the workers will get complete salary and other benefits for which they are eligible. The interests of the workers will be better served by re-commencement of production, he said.

The management issued a notification in May inviting willingness from the employees for VRS. A total of 909 workers had submitted their willingness letters for VRS. If the government is planning to disinvest its stake in the firm, the decision should be taken in this regard after announcing VRS for the workers, he said.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 2:03:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/No-respite-in-sight-for-workers-of-Mysore-Paper-Mills/article16667110.ece

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