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Employees stage protest for factory revival

By Our Special Correspondent

GULBARGA, SEPT. 29. Employees of the Aland Cooperative Sugar Factory staged a rasta roko in front of the Deputy Commissioner's office here for more than an hour today demanding the revival of the factory and payment of their pending salary.

The employees, led by the former Labour Minister and president of the Raitha Mathu Karmikara Janti Horata Samiti, S.K. Kanta, and the secretary, B.V. Chakravarthi, and leaders of the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (Sagar), urged the State Government to provide funds to take up emergency repairs and overhaul the machinery in the factory and resume crushing operations immediately.

Memorandum

In a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, Anjum Parvez, the employees condemned the order passed by the management of the sugar factory declaring a layoff from June 11. They wanted the Government to withdraw the layoff immediately and pay the salary due to the workers for the layoff period.

Rejecting the plea that the factory was overstaffed, the memorandum pointed out that although the factory's sanctioned workforce was 681, there were only 480 workers on the rolls. Mr. Kanta and Mr. Chakravarthi charged that the factory had suffered cumulative loss due to mismanagement by the elected representatives and the management, and the employees were not responsible for the mounting losses.

The factory could not crush sugarcane last year due to the non-availability of funds for the annual maintenance and overhauling of machinery and purchase of the chemicals to start work, they said.

Potential

They said that the factory had the potential to register profits if the crushing operations were resumed.

They pointed out that the Aland Cooperative Sugar Factory was the only sugar factory in the district and sugarcane growers of Aland, Afzalpur, and Gulbarga taluks depended on the factory for their survival. Even if the factory decided to resume crushing operations this year, a minimum of 1.30 lakh tonnes of sugarcane was available in the area for crushing. All the factories in the State were scheduled to begin crushing operations in October, and it was unfortunate that efforts were not being made to revive the Aland sugar factory.

Agitation

The employees had launched an agitation against the management and the State Government and, as part of the second phase, they held an indefinite dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioners office from September 20.

The employees pointed out that they had not been paid salary for the past 18 months and they had no alternative but to commit mass suicide if the State Government failed to resolve the issue and pay their pending salary.

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