A replay of the NorthBrook Jute Mill incident of May 18, 2014 when a senior mill manager was lynched to death by a mob of irate workers was narrowly averted on Sunday when three managers of the Indian Jute mill, were attacked by workers and pelted with bricks and machine spare parts.
Following the incident, a work suspension has been declared by the management, > throwing into uncertainty, 5,000 workers employed at the mill in the state’s jute belt in Hooghly.
In the >NorthBrook incident , the mill’s Chief Executive Officer (Operations), died after being lynched irate mob of workers, who were agitating over a reported management proposal to cut back production. The incident had sent shock waves through the state triggering a wave of work suspension and sending the government and the industry into a huddle on how to revive the sunset industry.
India Jute mill executives said that a riotous incident prevailed at the mill on Sunday morning for nearly three hours, with the employees of the sacking department going on a sudden strike and then resorting to violence. Some other staff rescued the three managers under attack, when police forces arrived. The company has filed a FIR with the Serampore police station on this incident.
Trade union sources admitted that there was an incident at the mill saying that they would further probe the matter. They however sought to distance themselves from the episode saying that this was not a template for workers’ movement in any industry.
However the NorthBrook incident highlighted the moribund state of affairs in the jute industry, even as the BJP led government at the Centre has started taking steps to ensure that orders for gunny bags (the industry’s main stay) is boosted.
The Union Textiles Ministry has urged the West Bengal government, where most of the mills are located to ensure that local rice mills pack their produce in jute bags as stipulated in the Jute Packaging Material (Compulsory Use in Packaging Commodities) Act, 1987. However the Centre also wants the State to help boost demand by issuing an order for compulsory packaging of potatoes and vegetables. West Bengal tops the country in production of many vegetables.
In a letter to West Bengal Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra, the Union Textiles Secretary Sanjay Panda has also flagged the issue of unchecked import of jute bags from Bangladesh — which is India’s biggest rival in the international jute goods market.
The Centre wanted the state police to strengthen the hands of the Jute Commissioner to check such imports.