Though the President’s Secretariat on January 9, 2018 asked the authorities concerned to take steps regarding finalisation of the revival proposal of the Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd (HPCL) which operates two paper mills in Assam – Nagaon Paper Mill at Jagiroad and Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram – nothing has been done in this regard so far.
The Rashtrapati Bhawan intervened into the matter of the crisis of the two paper mills in Assam after the Joint Action Action Committee of Recognised Unions, Assam, submitted a letter to the President regarding lack of efficient government causing inordinate delay in finalization of HPCL’s revival proposal.
The Deputy Director of the Department of Public Enterprises under the Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises, S Malik had forwarded the letter of President’s Secretariat to Manobendra Chakrabarty, President, CPPWU (INTUC), Cachar Paper Mill, Panchgram, on March 16, 2018.
Though the INTUC-affiliated Cachar Paper Mill Workers’ Union President Manobendra Chakraborty earlier hoped that since the government is duty-bound to honour the directive of the Rastrapati Bhawan, it would act promptly to save the industries and the affected people, who are on the brink of starvation due to non-payment of dues, the future of the employees of both the paper mills of Assam is still uncertain.
Of late, the Cachar Paper Mill of Pachgram in Assam’s Barak Valley is witnessing an unprecedented scenario lately.
There is a mad rush for taking voluntary retirement among the workers of the Cachar Paper Mill.
Since last one month, as many as 346 workers have taken voluntary retirement.
The Mill is being closed for last 29 months while the workers are facing tremendous financial crisis.
The mill authorities have earlier issued notice offering voluntary retirement for its workers.
However, it remains to be seen whether the workers availing VRS would be benefitted or emerge as losers.
The last date for applying VRS had earlier expired on March 20.
With more and more workers of the Cachar Paper Mill expressing their willingness to avail the VRS, a delegation of the mill workers met the Assistant Labour commissioner in Silchar and discussed about the predicament.
The commissioner, it is learnt, talked with labour representatives in details and had written a letter to the mill authorities with a plea to extend date.
Accordingly, the mill authorities have extended the date pf submission of VRS applications to April 10 next.
Meanwhile, the Swatantra Union, a labour body in the region, is smelling a rat in extending applications deadline. Union’s president Dilip Suklabaidya was of the view that the voluntary retirement proposal to the mill workers may be a part of a conspiracy.
While expressing apprehension over how the workers will be benefited, the labour union leader has questioned as to how the mill authorities will be able to pay the outstanding amounts to the workers taking VRS. He said, it involves a huge amount adding that it is nothing but ‘a banter’ to the needy staff.
There were around 1,500 workers in the mill that decreased to the present strength of around 700 odd workers. Among them, as many as 346 have applied for voluntary retirement.