30,000 spinning mill workers on strike in Panipat

Chandigarh, Panipat, July 30 | Updated: Jul 31 2006, 05:38am hrs
Nearly 30,000 spinning mill workers have gone on an indefinite strike in Panipat to protest the implementation of the minimum wages and labour laws. The strike has brought the production of about 500 mills to a standstill, with the losses expected to go up to several crores.

All the mill owners had declared a lockout of the mills without any notice on July 11. This continued till July 14 rendering the employees workless. After that the workers went on a flash strike that has now been transformed into an indefinite strike.

All the workers are underpaid. As per the minimum wages guarantee scheme, we should get Rs 2,707 per month, but we are working at a meager wage of Rs 1,000 per month. We demand that minimum wages, an eight-hour duty, equal pay for equal work, adequate compensation for overtime, weekly off, issuance of attendance card and wage slip be granted to all the employees. Registration of workers in factories should be done and the management should stop the atrocities being committed on workers, said Citu general secretary Anand Jawahra.

This tussle between the management and the workers has been simmering for many years now. Strike has hit the industry several times in the past ten years. Even the power loom industry has tasted agitation by workers. There was a massive strike in 2005, which hit more than 1,000 units in the sector, employing nearly 30,000 workers. Even after signing an agreement the management continued to underpay the workers. Only last month about 100 factories were caught working illegally, Anand told FE.

Tug-of-war

The strike has brought the production of about 500 mills to a standstill
Mill owners had declared a lockout of the mills without any notice on July 11
This tussle between the management and the workers is quite old

The Centre, on the other hand, is also concerned about labour-management tussle that seems to be reaching its acme. Last month, the workers of shoe maker Liberty went on a strike, which continues till date. Even after the intervention of the district commissioner (labour) both the sides have failed to reach an agreement.

Any strife is bound to affect the industry badly. A meeting was called by the textile ministry last week in New Delhi to discuss labour problems. A Cabinet committee has been formed to look into labour laws in the country, said director general of foreign trade KT Chacko.