(en) India: Repression and Mass Lay-Off at PCT Ltd.-

EW Plawiuk (ewplawiuk@mail.geocities.com)
Sun, 27 Jul 1997 10:16:15 -0600

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>------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
>Date: Sun, 27 Jul 1997 19:11:24 +0800
>From: alarm <alarm@HK.Super.NET>
>The Company
>Mighty M/S Paharpur Cooling Towers Ltd. is a manufacturer of different
>industrial products such as cooling towers, air coolers, flexible packaging
>and plastic bags. Its products are sold both in the domestic and
>international markets. According to the company's annual report dated 31
March >1997, Paharpur has 20 production facilities/factories and more than a dozen
>subsidiaries throughout India.The company has also several joint ventures
with >different multinational companies.
>Six of the company's major production facilities are located at Calcutta
(West >Bengal) and Gaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) employing a total of 3,000 workers. The
>company is a market leader in the power, steel and petrochemical industries.
>Its profit has increased manyfold, reaching US$1.5 million in 1995 alone.
>Union Busting
>The Paharpur Cooling Towers Limited Employees Union, West Bengal and
Shahibabad >Works is an independent union. It was formed in January 1996. When the
workers >tried to register the union, the management interfered and used all its
>connections to prevent the union from registering. As a result, the
Registrar >of Trade Unions in West Bengal played delaying tactics.
>The workers knew it would be difficult to register the union since the
>management has undue influence over many government departments. The workers
>then took the matter before the High Court of Calcutta. Through the court
>ruling, the government was compelled to give the registration certificate
to the >union. From then on, the management has intensified the use of unfair labour
>practices including all forms of intimidation, coercion and physical
harassment. >The management want to crush the newly formed union and its leadership.
>Subcontracting, Low Wages, Dismissal And Exploitation of Workers
>In Calcutta (West Bengal) and Gaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) alone, MS Paharpur has
>3,000 workers. Two of its six factories at Gaziabad were closed after the
>company declared a lockout on 4 June 1997. Another 200 workers of Bhasa
(West >Bengal) factory have been terminated by the management. At present, there
are >at least 1,800 workers out of job.
>Paharpur is a trend-setter in India for engaging contract and subcontract
>labour. In Gaziabad, the company's unit at plot 19, Shahibabad Industrial
>Area is being totally operated by a contractor M/S Shetthi & Sons. In Bhasa
>Plant (West Bengal) out of the total 281 workers, only 37 are permanent,
40 are >trainees and the other 204 are contract workers who are earning a meager
amount >of US$ 0.73 to 0.90 per day. In line with the liberalisation policy of the
>Indian Government, the company is engaging large number of contract
workers. >The company has deprived the contract labourer of all the benefits of
permanent >employees. This sub-contracting tactic is unscrupulous because the so-called
>sub- contractors are actually agents of the company.
>An Urgent Appeal From The Workers
>Dear Brothers and Sisters:
>We, on behalf of the workers of Mighty Paharpur Cooling Towers Ltd.,
working in >different units of India, convey the feelings of struggling workers who are
>fighting for their cause against the all powerful management.
>The management of the company has waged an all out attack to crush the
>leadership and the unity of the workers. By way of retrenchment , suspension
>and dismissal of union leaders, the rights of the workers and the laws have
>been trampled. All these dirty and anti-labour tactics of the management is
>openly supported by the police and the government.
>Today, a total of 1850 workers from different units of Paharpur are out of
>work. These workers lost their jobs through mass retrenchment, dismissal,
>lockout and closure. Paharpur workers wonder why they should be deprived of
>their democratic right to organise and bargain collectively.
>It is really unfortunate that the State Government of West Bengal which is
>supposed to be committed to the cause of the downtrodden people, condones
this >monstrous oppression of the workers by the management and the destruction of
>the democratic and constitutional rights of the workers.
>We therefore appeal to you to raise your voice against the naked and ugly
use >of power by Paharpur, against the denial of justice and democratic right
of the >workers, and against exploitation. More importantly, please declare your
>support for workers' rights to organise and bargain collectively.
>Please write letters condemning the management's anti-labour policies and the
>government's failure to protect the rights of the working people of India.
>Please demand the following:
>1) Reinstate all the dismissed workers
>2) Stop harassment and intimidation
>3) Respect the workers' basic right to organise and bargain
> collectively.
>Again, we appeal to you to please let us know any program of solidarity
you may >extend from your side. We have every hope that you will extend the your
>solidarity to the struggling workers of India.
>Yours sincerely,
>Kamal Tewary
>Please send your protest letters (cc: Kamal Tewary, PCTEU) to:
>4. The Chairman and Managing Director
> Paharpur Cooling Tower Limited
> Paharpur House, 8/1/B
> Diamond Harbour Road
> Calcutta 700027 INDIA
>5. The government of West Bengal
> a) The Chief Minister
> Government of West Bengal
> Writers' Building
> Calcutta 700001 INDIA
> b) The Labour Minister
> Government of West Bengal
> Writers Building
> Calcutta 700001 INDIA
> c) The Chief of Police
> Government of West Bengal
> Writers BuildingCalcutta 700001 INDIA
>Sample Letter
>27 July 1997
>The Chairman and Managing Director
>Paharpur Cooling Towers Ltd.
>Calcutta, India
>Dear Mr. Chairman:
>We are network of a hundred labour, migrant and women's organisations in Asia
>Pacific committed to the pursuit of workers' rights. We are writing to
express >our outrage on the on- going mass lay-offs, abuses and exploitation of
>workers in your company.
>>From a timber factory in Calcutta 48 years ago, the company has flourished
>into a market leader and global business, posting a huge profit of US$1.5
>million in 1995 alone. This phenomenal growth is due largely to the
workers. >Therefore, we are appalled that the company has shown brazen disregard
for the >welfare and rights of the workers. Indeed, it is now obvious that the huge
>profits is due to the underpayment, subcontracting, denial of benefits and
job >security and general exploitation of the workers.
>The company tramples on existing laws protecting workers' rights and uses
>local authorities to harass workers and protect company interests. It denies
>workers' rights to unionise and bargain collectively which are enshrined in
>international covenants signed by India.This greed for profit has thrown a
>total of 1,800 workers out of job. The remaining workers suffer under
>exploitative conditions, meager wages, little benefits and no job security.
>We are circulating this case of gross workers' rights violation to all our
>labour, church and media contacts in Asia, Europe and America to inform
them of >the situation of the Paharpur workers. We urgently request you to:
>1. Reinstate all the 1800 dismissed workers;
>2. Stop harassment and intimidation;
>3. Respect the workers' basic right to organise and bargain
> collectively;
>4. Adhere with all local and international labour laws and standards.
>We anticipate your immediate action on this matter.
>Respectfully yours,
>APEC Labour Rights Monitor Asia Monitor Resource Center
>Asia Pacific Workers Solidarity Links Asian Migrant Centre
>Committee for Asian Women HK Christian Industrial Committee
>This solidarity appeal was requested by:
>Kamal Tewary
>Paharpur Cooling Towers Ltd. Employees Union
>(West Bengal and Shahibabad Works)
>G-100, Battikal, Graden Reach, Calcutta 700024
>ALARM serves as central monitor and coordinator of Asian labour action alerts
>on behalf of the Asia Monitor Resource Center (AMRC), Asian Migrant Centre
>(AMC), Asia Pacific Workers Solidarity Links (APWSL) and Committee for Asian
>Women (CAW). Please send your labour alerts to the above address or by fax or

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