The Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation (MSCSFF) on Wednesday decided to give some interim relief to factory employees. The decision was taken at a meeting held in Pune in response to the threat of an indefinite agitation by workers.
Nearly 1.5 lakh sugar factory workers in the state have threatened to shut down factory operations from January 2 unless the federation takes a decision on their wage demand.
According to Shivajirao Nagawade, chairman of the federation, while the mills have agreed that some interim relief should be given to factory workers, the quantum of the relief is yet to be decided.
Factory workers have been seeking a 40% wage hike or an interim hike of R3,000 per month.
Nagawade said that the sugar industry has been passing through a bad phase for the last couple of years with a fall in sugar prices and water scarcity due to paucity of rains adding to the problem. “In the coming season, some of the mills will be able to complete only 50% crushing operations while some of them are likely to crush 75% of their capacity.
“This issue will now be discussed at the tri-partite meet of the committee appointed by the government in Mumbai on December 28 with worker representatives,” Nagawade told FE. Around 40 representatives of factory managements attended the meet.
The term of the committee, headed by Shivjirao Patil, vice-president, Vasantdada Sugar Institute, ends on January 8.The third meeting held by the committee in Pune this month met with little success for the lack of response from members. According to Shivajirao Patil, the four-year wage pact between the workers and factories came to an end in April 2009 and a new committee came into existence to hear out the workers. The new committee was formed in July 2015 and a meeting was held thereafter without any success. The second meeting held in October in Pune also met with a similar response.
Nagawade pointed workers have been recieving dearness allowance every three months in their salary and their salaries have nearly doubled since the expiry of the wage agreement. The wage agreement with the workers was signed in the year 2009 and the agreement expired in March 2014.
Factories seek more time to pay FRP dues
Maharashtra sugar mills have decided to seek more time from the government to pay fair and remunerative price (FRP) arrears for the 2014-15 season, top officials of the MSCSFF said.
At least 51 mills in the state have recieved notices from the Maharashtra Sugar Commissionerate on Tuesday for not clearing up thier dues and have been given time until December 31 to make these payments failing which these mills may end up losing their crushing licences for the current season. These mills owe farmers as FRP dues to the tune of R400 crore for the last season.
Nagawade said that the issue was discussed at the meet held in Pune. The federation has decided to approach the commissioner and seek additional time of one month to make the payments, he said.