Jessop and Hindustan Motors announced “suspension of work” notice in their Dum Dum and Uttarpara works respectively after the conclusion of the General Elections. On 15 May, Jessop & Co. had announced “suspension of operations” at its 226-year old Dum Dum works, jeopardizing the livelihood of 635 workers and their families, and fuelling fears of a lockout in a manner similar to the tyre-maker Dunlop India Ltd at Sahaganj. Established way back in 1788 and nationalised in 1973, the crane, road-roller and railway wagon-manufacturing company was being sold off to the PawanRuia group (so was the Dunlop) in a disinvestment bid by the BJP-led NDA government in 2003. The Left Front Government used to resolve labour disputes by intervening in case of labour unrests and holding tripartite talks. However, since the “PARIBARTAN” in 2011, the state government had turned its back to the Jessop, and the hooliganism of the union showing allegiance to the ruling party ruled supreme. Almost non-operational since last October, the management had argued that “the decision was taken due to continuous malicious intervention of outsiders in the functioning of the plant” and “wasteful agitation” resulting in loss of production which eroded the economic structure of the plant. It also alleged that costly machineries are being stolen from the works in the dark of the night. However, the State government took no initiative to sort out the issues with the union, or to ensure security of the machineries. On 7th May, the Chief Minister in her electoral campaign at the Jessop & Co. had declared that the WB Government would take over the works after the election. And around a week later, the workers who were without wages for 7 months were being ‘gifted’ the ‘Suspension of Work’.
On 24 May, the C.K.Birla Group-owned Hindustan Motors declared ‘Suspension of Work’ for indefinite period in its Uttarpara plant citing as many as 34 reasons. Established in 1948, this plant is known for the production of the iconic brand Ambassador, and the 1-tonne payload mini-truck Winner. With as many as 2400 employees becoming jobless, its closure marks the apathy of the State government towards resolving industrial labour unrests. Though the management demanded that the back wages are being cleared, yet the demand for withdrawal on freeze of DA were not being met up. The Hindustan Motors stated that the plant was facing severe crunch, and orders for new productions could not be executed. The Left Front Government had aided the Hindustan Motors by issuing fresh orders for Ambassadors and mini-trucks, and paying off its due electricity bills in installments, to keep the company operational. But the apathetic attitude of this government had worsened the situation. Low productivity, large accumulation of liabilties, critical shortage of funds and lack of demand for the core product-Ambassador cars were being cited as the reasons for the shutdown.
The suspension of work at Jessop and Hindustan Motors after the Duckback points out to the heartless outlook of the State government and its apathy towards the job security of the workers. A government with absolutely no intention and blueprint of setting up of new industries or to attract investors, is not the least bothered to resolve labour disputes by holding tripartite discussions, or to ensure security of the management, workers and the machineries. This is gradually poisoning the economic environment of the state and shrinking the potential for new investors and/or job-seekers. In the season of college admissions being in full sway, the SFI expresses deep concern at the economic instability of the state which would endanger the future higher education of the students from the families of the workers of the Jessop or Hindustan Motors, and assures support to them from every possible aspect.