ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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KERALA-Defectors Day

November 24, 1979 LABOUR Jute Workers Restive Timir Basu JUTE workers are restive again. They are not on the warpath yet, but there is discontent in the air. The Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA) has said a flat 'no' to workers' demand for 20 per cent bonus; worse, many terms of the tripartite settlement have remained on paper and workers are once again helpless in absence of any legal safeguards. The state government too has been tardy. According to the terms of the -pement, the government should have up two committees to study the work-load in the industry and to examine the pay-scales of different categories of jute workers with immediate effect. But the formation of the two committees was announced only in September, after eight months. Though the committees have been asked to submit their reports within six months, the workers have little faith in such time-schedules, for obvious reasons. Even if the committees' verdicts are given in time, the IJMA can back out, precipitating a new dispute, or the committees* recommendations could be challenged in the High Court. In that event, the govenment would be rendered a 'helpless' onlooker, as has already happened on the question of reinstatement of victimised workmen. It had been agreed by all the parties at the time of the tripartite settlement. hat the labour minister's recommendation in the matter of reinstatement of workers who bad been victimised during the Emergency for political reasons would be final. It was further agreed that the number of such workers would not exceed 55, Though the minister's recommendation should have come within two months of the signing of the agreement, he did not issue his orders before the third week of September. The minister then ordered the reinstatement of 51 victimised workmen. The mill-owners, however, ignored the order without giving any reason. The affected workers belong mainly to mills owned by Birlas and Kanorias, Deben Mazumdar, a worker of the Budge Budge Jute Mill,. was retrenched in 1976 for allegedly inciting workmen on the issue of work-load and contract labour. He still does not know when, if ever, he will get his job back. In fact, not a single victimised worker has been reinstated in any mill.

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