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Tuesday, Mar 16, 2004

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Ludlow Jute Mills may reopen next month

Kohinoor Mandal

Kolkata , March 15

LUDLOW Jute Mills, belonging to Aekta Ltd, which was closed due to labour unrest since September last, is likely to reopen next month.

Aekta, which is a listed company, belongs to the city-based Kanoria Chemicals. Unlike other mills, which are mostly run by jute traders, this mill is managed by an established corporate house.

According to Mr S.S. Kanoria, Chairman of Kanoria Chemicals, and a Director of Aketa Ltd, the mill was closed down because of labour unrest. Suspension of work was announced on September 29, 2003.

"We were forced to halt production in the mill. There was absenteeism among the workers. We are holding talks with the workers and are hopeful to reopen the unit soon," Mr Kanoria told Business Line.

Aekta is engaged in the production of non-traditional jute products like carpet yarn for high-speed looms, industrial yarn, webbing, decorative and furnishing fabrics, linoleum hessian.

It was producing the traditional jute sackings and hessian. The company was also manufacturing hydrocarbon-free food grade quality jute bags, which has a huge demand among global coffee and cocoa producers.

Ludlow Jute Mill was the only American jute mill in the country. The Kanorias acquired Ludlow in 1977.

Mr Kanoria said that the products of Ludlow always fetched a higher price in the market because of an effective marketing team. The workers, according to him, were enjoying better facilities compared to the industry colleagues.

"In an era of competition, the workers will have to improve their productivity and for that they will have to be more disciplined in their daily activities,'' he said.

Meanwhile, the total workforce of Ludlow Jute Mill was gradually reduced from around 8,000 in the late seventies to the present level of 3,200-3,000.

Sijberia Division: In another development, the management of Aekta has transferred the Sijberia Division of the company to another organisation, Ludlow Securities Ltd. The scheme of arrangement was approved by the shareholders and Calcutta High Court and it has been given effect from April 1, 2002.

"There were some godowns in the Sijberia Division and it was used to stock caustic soda by the flagship company Kanoria Chemicals,'' Mr Kanoria said.

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