Some 50 Maharashtra sugar mills still owe Rs 200 cr in workers’ salaries

By: | Updated: September 29, 2016 8:40 AM

Even as the new sugar season of 2016-17 is slated to begin in Maharashtra sometime next month onwards, at least 50 sugar factories still owe their employees salaries for the past couple of seasons.

Even as the new sugar season of 2016-17 is slated to begin in Maharashtra sometime next month onwards, at least 50 sugar factories still owe their employees salaries for the past couple of seasons. (Source: Reuters)Even as the new sugar season of 2016-17 is slated to begin in Maharashtra sometime next month onwards, at least 50 sugar factories still owe their employees salaries for the past couple of seasons. (Source: Reuters)

Even as the new sugar season of 2016-17 is slated to begin in Maharashtra sometime next month onwards, at least 50 sugar factories still owe their employees salaries for the past couple of seasons.

The pending salary bill of sugar factory employees comes up to some Rs 200 crore, according to top union sources. Nearly 1.5 lakh workers are employed with sugar factories in Maharashtra. According to union leaders, since the issue does not fall within the purview of the state government, the workers end up approaching the union and the union attempts to resolve these issues at the local level. According to Tatyasaheb Kale, president of the Kamgar Union, worker issues have remained unresolved and workers have been agitating at the local level with factories to recover their pending salaries. For instance, for thee last 15 days, workers of the Bhima Patas Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana in Daund taluka, Pune district, have been agitating for recovering the salary dues of the last 13 months.

Kale pointed out that whenever factories are in a financial crisis, it is the workers who have to bear the brunt since their salaries are kept on hold. And whenever the factories resume operations, the workers still do not receive their due. “Workers also have to run their families and often end up getting barely 50% of their wages. If this situation continues, the sugar sector may end up losing workers since they will seek employment in other sectors,” he pointed out.

Shivajirao Nagawade, chairman of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Sugar Factories Federation, agreed that more than 50 factories still owe workers salaries. The sugar sector is going through a tough time and is in financial difficulty. Therefore, it is difficult for mills to make payments. Mills have already been finding it difficult to make fair and remunerative price payments to farmers because of the falling prices and workers dues are also to be paid, he said. The coming season is also expected to be tough for the state, since barely 55 lakh tonne of sugar is expected to be produced, he said. Sanjeev Babar, MD of the federation, pointed out that the salaries owed to workers by factories are for some months. This was expected to happen since the mills are going through a financial crisis. A delegation had approached Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in Delhi seeking restructuring of loans to mills.

Maharashtar sugar commissioner Vipin Sharma said the issues of workers falls under the jurisdiction of the labour commissioner.

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