Jute mill workers unhappy with compensation package

The employees of Chittivalasa Jute Mills and trade unions are conflicted over the compensation package announced for them by the government, as they feel that they are still not getting their due.

Tourism Minister Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao had recently announced that the management of Chittivalasa Jute Mill has agreed to pay ₹25 crore compensation to the workers by December this year.

As per the package, ₹11 crore will be paid in October, ₹7 crore in November and the remaining ₹7 crore in December.

Speaking to The Hindu, Ch. Narasinga Rao, State Secretariat Member of the CPI(M), said that in 2009, a lockout was imposed in the mill. The jute mill, which was established in 1924, was one of the oldest and most profitable mills and the lockout was declared illegal by the court, he said.

At that time, there were close to 4,072 employees and 667 apprentices, and in 2010, the court had ordered payment of wages from August 20, 2009 to April 30, 2010, an amount that works out to ₹33.33 crore, he said.

“From the date of the lockout till today, around 2,100 people have retired and over 600 have died, and we demand that the compensation should be based on Payment of Wages Act of 1936, which works out close to ₹7 lakh per worker. The total compensation amount works out to ₹106.53 crore in 2011, which in today’s value would be ₹223 crore,” said an employee of the jute mill.

R. Narasinga Rao of CITU, Chittivalasa Jute Mills, said that the mill never suffered losses and was a labour-intensive, environment-friendly green industry.

Instead of closing it down and paying paltry compensation to the workers, the government should revive and restart it, as people from four mandals such as Bhimili, Padmanabham, Anandapuram and Bhogapuram have always depended on it, he said.

Land value

The Chittivalasa Jute Mill was set up during British rule in 1924, and several workers had taken part in independence struggles. Two were also killed during that period in police firing, it is learnt.

After the ownership of the mill changed hands post independence, it became a profitable unit and there is still a large demand for jute bags and accessories, said Mr. Ch. Narasinga Rao.

“The mill was set up on 70 acres of land, which is now prime real estate in Bhimili. The value of the land is close to ₹700 crore, and the management settling the issue by paying a paltry ₹25 crore is not acceptable. We demand that it be revived or adequate compensation be paid,” said the CPI(M) leader.

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