HLL workers strike at Kolkata factory

Thursday, 20 March 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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KOLKATA: A strike at a Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL) production facility here has brought work to a standstill, with employees demanding withdrawal of plans to downsize city operations.

About 1,100 workers went on a 72-hour strike from Wednesday against the company's decision to close down two units of the factory here.

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

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

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

The workers say the company wanted about 500 of them to accept voluntary retirement, but add the deal being offered in return is unacceptable. They say the scheme has not been discussed with the unions.

Roy said they could resort to a greater stir and call an indefinite strike if they were not called for negotiations by the management immediately.

The HLL management has described the strike as detrimental to the health of its city unit.

A company statement said the strike would undermine the long-term viability of the factory where productivity was low compared to HLL plants located elsewhere.

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