Election pressure likely to break Dunlop impasse

Kolkata, March 29 | Updated: Mar 30 2006, 05:30am hrs
Tyremaker Dunlop India Ltd and its workers unions are likely to sort out the last issues holding up an agreement to reopen the plant here, with the Left Front government keen to capitalise on this success story ahead of the April-May Assembly elections.

When Dunlop, closed for seven years, was picked up by Pawan Kumar Ruia in December 2005 from the Chhabria family, the 2,700 workers still on the rolls had been jubilant. Later, Mr Ruia had faced some hurdles in working out an agreement to restart production.

The states industry minister, Mr Nirupam Sen, has asked the Dunlop workers union to soften their stand and agree to some proposals of the new management. Union leaders have had four meetings with the management but failed to reach a consensus. Dunlops spokesman, Mr Dhrubojyoti Nandy, said most of the contentious issues including production norms have been settled, but some minor agreements are holding up the final agreement.

Leaders of Dunlops Citu union, the larger of the two operating at the plant, said the management and the unions had agreed to start operations with 1157 workers, but they have differences over the gratuity payment and the effective date for computation of workers salary.

The unions - Citu as well as Intuc wants the Rs 15 crore gratuity payments for exiting workers cleared at one shot, while the company wants payments to be spread over six months.

The unions want January 24 the date on which Mr Ruia signed the agreement to reopen the unit to be the effective date for computation of workers pay. Dunlop said it had initially been thinking on the same lines, but workers have taken a long time to clear other issues so they should be paid from the date the agreement takes effect.