Dunlop spells out conditions for reopening Kolkata plant

Abhishek Law Pratim Ranjan Bose Kolkata | Updated on July 20, 2011 Published on July 20, 2011

‘They cannot squarely blame workers for theft. Workers also have their share of grievances, including non-payment of dues and retirement benefits.'

Dunlop India Ltd today told the West Bengal government that “evacuation of illegal occupants” and reducing the incidence of theft from the factory are imperative to resume production in the Sahagunj facility near Kolkata.

The submissions were made at a meeting called by the State Labour Minister, Mr Purnendu Basu.

Reiterating that the company is paying wages and salaries to a little over 950 employees despite the shutdown since end-2010, the company had reportedly urged the government to resolve the disputes with local municipalities over payment of tax arrears amounting to approximately Rs 5 crore prior to acquisition of Dunlop by the Ruia Group in 2005.

The State government sources suggest that relief or concessions were also urged on account of payment of arrears to the State electricity distribution utility against dues accumulated before 2005 and tax on use of water.

Govt unconvinced

The State government, however, is not fully satisfied with Dunlop's explanation. “They have raised issues regarding security and theft. The issue is being looked into. However, they cannot squarely blame workers for theft. Workers also have their share of grievances, including non-payment of dues and retirement benefits. Apparently, management practices may also have contributed to the current state of the plant.”

“I have invited Mr Ruia to personally explain his position on the status of the plant and submit the blueprints for its revival, if any. I must know what he has done for revival of the facility so far, before we consider his request for reliefs. The issue will also be taken up with the commerce and industry department, if need be.”

Illegal occupants

A senior State government official admitted that there were illegal occupants in the 250-acre estate adjacent to the factory at Sahagunj. “A section of the workers of the factory had sublet their quarters during the prolonged suspension of work at the factory and non-payment of dues before Ruias had taken over the company. There were efforts to remove such illegal occupants in the past,” he said on condition of anonymity.

Dunlop India confirmed today's meeting with the Labour Minister and submission of a memorandum. “We have requested the Minister to restore law and order and evacuate the illegal occupants from our properties. Our efforts in the past to resume operations were severely impacted by high incidence of theft and lack of security at the estate,” a company spokesperson said, adding that Mr Ruia was currently abroad and would meet the Minister in the future.

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Published on July 20, 2011
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