BIZ-JUTE-LD AGREEMENT

Bengal govt inks wage pact with jute industry, CITU stays away
    (Eds: With fresh inputs)
    Kolkata, Mar 14 (PTI) The West Bengal government on
Thursday signed a wage agreement with the jute industry to
ward off an impending strike in the mills, officials said.
    The agreement, which was signed late on Wednesday,
came into effect from Thursday, Labour Minister Malay Ghatak
said.
    As per the fresh agreement, new workers would get a
maximum of Rs 385 per day, from the existing Rs 257.
    In January this year, the state government had raised
the wages for new joinees to Rs 327 a day as interim relief.
    A worker is also entitled to get Rs 385 a day if his
attendance is at least 24 days in a month, failing which the
wage would be reduced to Rs 370 a day.
    "This is a good wage agreement. Our government has
given a better deal to the workers compared to the previous
Left Front regime," Ghatak said.
    The new deal came in the backdrop of an indefinite
strike call from March 15 by trade unions demanding wage
revision and implementation of Minimum Wages Act, among
others.
    As many as 21 trade unions, barring Indian National
Trinamool Trade Union Congress, had called the strike.
    However, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU),
stayed away from the fresh wage agreement terming it as "anti
worker".
    "The state government has budged before the jute mills
management and forced an anti-worker wage agreement which is
not acceptable to us. We have not ratified the deal," CITU
backed Bengal Chatkal Mazdoor Union secretary Anadi Sahu said.
    Out of the 21 trade unions, six Left Front-supported
trade unions have not signed the agreement.
    Major unions, including the Congress-backed INTUC,
BJP's BMS, and Trinamool Congress' INTTUC have signed the
agreement.
    "There is merely a Rs 2 per day hike for the 2.5 lakh
existing workers, which is just not acceptable," Sahu said.
    He also said that the Left-backed trade unions and
four other unions have called for a one-day token strike.
    Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA) sources said if
the Left trade unions do not become a signatory to the wage
agreement, smooth functioning will be affected in many mills.
    IJMA had earlier cited rising cost, cheap Bangladeshi
imports and the onslaught of the plastic industry in packaging
as causes for inability to pay more to the workers. PTI BSM
RBT RBT