HLL shuts down Kolkata factory

Monday, 24 March 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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Making no bones of the fact that the lockout was in retaliation to the workers strike, Hindustan Lever Ltd. Saturday shut down a production facility in Kolkata in the face of a workers' strike.

KOLKATA: A lockout notice issued Friday night said the Garden Reach factory would remain shut from Saturday. The company said it would review its decision by April 11.

Making no bones of the fact that the lockout was a retaliatory step against the strike, a company statement said the decision was taken "due to the intransigent attitude of the union and workmen".

A re-opening of the unit can only be considered if the employees give an undertaking that they would create an "environment conducive to healthy industrial activity" in the factory, the statement said.

The management, however, also indicated that the city plant was important to it by saying efforts were under way to modernise the 70-year-old factory.

The workers began the 72-hour strike Wednesday to protest the company's decision to close down two units of the factory.

"The decision to close down the soap and detergent manufacturing units was jeopardising the livelihood of workmen," said union leader Amit Roy Chowdhury.

He said the management's decision to outsource many of the regular jobs was also an ominous sign for employees.

The strikers were demanding a revision of wages, regularisation of jobs of contract workers and scrapping of a voluntary retirement scheme.

Roy had said they could call an indefinite strike if they were not called for negotiations by the management immediately.

The HLL management had then described the strike as detrimental to the health of the factory and said it would undermine the long-term viability of the factory, where productivity was already low compared to HLL plants located elsewhere.

The Garden Reach factory, once used to produce soaps and detergent, now functions only as an assembly line for Lever's 'Pears' brand of soaps.
Source: IANS

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