Employees of iconic Mysore Paper Mills have had no salary for 10 months

‘Company says we have been terminated from service with effect from October 2021’

August 23, 2022 10:43 pm | Updated August 24, 2022 01:05 pm IST - Bhadravati

Employees of Mysore Paper Mills Ltd. outside the union office on the company premises in Bhadravati.

Employees of Mysore Paper Mills Ltd. outside the union office on the company premises in Bhadravati. | Photo Credit: PRAKASH HASSAN

For the last 10 months, around 70 employees of Mysore Paper Mills (MPM) Ltd., a public sector undertaking in Bhadravati, have not got their salaries. When they enquired with their office about the salaries, the response they received was that they had been terminated from service with effect from October 2021.

MPM, set up by rulers of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom, stopped functioning in 2015. Permanent employees were offered packages under the voluntary retirement scheme. Those on the verge of retirement got better packages than those recently recruited and left the company. As many as 224 permanent employees continued with the company. The firm also wanted to retain some employees for regular maintenance until the company was taken over by private investors.

However, private investors hardly showed interest to take up the firm and it remained non-functional. As many as 129 employees were deputed to different corporations and boards of the State government. Finally, 70 remained with the company’s establishment in Bhadravati.

A view of Mysore Paper Mills Ltd. at Bhadravati.

A view of Mysore Paper Mills Ltd. at Bhadravati. | Photo Credit: PRAKASH HASSAN

“The permanent employees who have been deputed to boards and corporations are continuing to get salaries and other benefits. But, we have been terminated. Is this not injustice? We too have been demanding the company depute us to boards and corporations,” said S. Chandrashekhar, president of the workers’ union.

Forest division

The recurring loss prompted the government to stop the operations of the company in 2017. As a result, except for the forest division, all other sections came to a halt. The forest division is continuing to work because the company has got around 20,005.42 hectares of forest area on lease. The lease expires on August 8, 2060. The area is utilised for raising captive pulpwood — the raw material for paper production.

“We are demanding that the company and the government ensure job security for the remaining employees until they retire. The company can make use of our services in the Forest Department. Instead of managing the forest by taking officers on deputation from the Forest Department, let our men do it. In fact, many of us did the same job earlier,” said Mr. Chandrashekhar. The union has moved the court on the issue. The hearing is going on.

Backlog posts

Of those remaining in the company, nearly 40 people belong to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. They were recruited against the backlog vacancies. “We were recruited for meagre salaries and for years we have not seen a hike. As the VRS package was not beneficial for our payscale, we did not take it. For the last 10 months, we have had no salary. As we have already crossed 50 years, it is difficult to take up fresh jobs elsewhere,” pointed out Sreeshila, an employee who gets monthly pay of ₹12,654. He has been with the company since 2008.

Shivaraj Naik, another employee and a native of Bidar, said he had no source of income to look after his family of six members. “We are ready to work for the company or any other government agency,” he said.

Company’s assets

The company has machinery and over 800 acres of land and 1,419 quarters. Most of the buildings have remained vacant. A majority of the houses are in a dilapidated condition.

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