Workers' union shocked by sudden lockout of tile factory

Special Correspondent

MANGALORE: The South Kanara Tile Workers' Union has expressed shock over the sudden lockout of the Commonwealth Tile Works at Jeppu in Mangalore.

About 205 workers, who left the tile factory after work on Saturday evening, faced sudden unemployment when they returned on Monday morning.

Each worker was given about Rs. 150 on Saturday as the week's pay, said B. Madhava, general secretary of South Kanara Tile Workers' Union.

He told The Hindu that the lockout was unilateral, illegal and uncalled for as the management had reportedly mismanaged the affairs of the factory.

He said the management committee, which headed the Commonwealth Tile Factory Trust, was in Calicut. None of the representatives from the management had visited the factory and taken any steps to revive the factory from the financial and operational crisis it was facing, he said. A local employee was given the charge of the factory without any financial or operational powers. He said there was also a shortage of raw materials like clay and firewood in the factory.

Mr. Madhava said another tile factory owned by the trust in Kudroli was closed about 6 years ago. He said, the management gave a `reasonable compensation' to the workers only after the intervention of the union. The factory was allowed to close operations on the pre-condition that the monies received by the sale of the land and buildings should be ploughed back for re-modification of the Jeppu factory, Mr. Madhava said. That did not happen as the trust took the funds to Calicut, he added.

The Assistant Labour Commissioner, on an appeal by the union, has assured to take steps to bring the management and the workers face to face.

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