A Day of Strikes and Mass Protests of Jute Workers

Today (May 20) Workers of AP Jute Mills came out in strength to demand their wages for the lock down period. Mill after mill witnessed the strike action of the workers for their legitimate right. It was the day when jute workers broke through the lock down on protests in a big way.

Today  morning at 6 AM workers of AP Fibres Jute Mill located in Saluru town, Vijayanagram district of AP went on cat-call strike for payment of wages as per GO for the period of lock down. Majority are women workers. They held a massive Sit-in with nearly 600 workers belonging to A shift. This sit-in was held in front of jute mill gate, under the leadership of IFTU. Workers raised slogans demanding from the mill management to come immediately and agree to pay said wages as per agreements done in other jute mills in AP according to said GO.

Later in the morning, workers of Nellimarla Jute Mill also went on cat call strike for same demand. It was started by workers belong to B shift at exactly 10 AM today. It is at the time of commencement of their shift. They sat in front of Nellimarla jute mill gate shouting slogans. Nearly 600 workers joined the sit-in to start with. The number swelled later.

These two mills are running since nearly 3 weeks with recoverable Advance amount instead of payment of  statutory wages as per GOs.

All the TUs are unitedly fighting for this demand in AP jute sector. Nearly 10 thousand workers fighting under joint banner including all TUs- IFTU, CITU, AITUC, TNTUC, INTUC etc.

These three mills’ managements came down and made agreements with concerned TUs on May 8th, May 9th and May 16th respectively to pay Rs. 5,000 to each worker against wages as per GOs. Those three mills are running.

Since beginning of work, nearly 5000 workers belong to two jute mills located in Eluru, WG district, AP are in strike. Though management had taken unilateral steps to make workers to join duties, without an agreement with unions, the workers are not following it. They are under JAC, which is formed with 9 unions. In Eluru, a big Dharna took place with over one thousand workers yesterday (May 19) in front of Eluru Srikrishna Jute Mill, Eluru, defying all types of police restrictions. Moreover, today they are held a big Dharna in front of district COLLECTOR office.

Management of 2 mills in Eluru could reopen their mills unilaterally with help of undeclared support of govt. machinery, without entering into legal agreement with concerned TUs and bypassing all legal norms. These are Nellimarla & Saluru jute mills. But workers gave them a very strong shock treatment. It is a lesson to such crude managements. It is political and moral victory to the working class of jute sector particularly and also other working class in general.

The workers went into duties hungry and in poor condition. But now they also came into struggle. They were inspired by victories achieved by workers of other jute mills. Because IFTU is propagating said victories in continuous manner. It is a very good chapter in our working class’ history of jute sector in AP.

At around 11 AM talks started between IFTU UNION and jute mill management in SALURU JUTE MILL. Dharna went on outside in front of mill gate. The number of workers increased despite brazen hot atmosphere. Their number kept on increasing as workers came from their homes, who were not on duties and joined it. It increase to 700, mainly women workers.

More than one thousand jute workers participated today in Dharna in front of district COLLECTOR office ELURU, W.G. district, AP, demanding to implement GO, issued by central govt, on 29-5-2020, also followed by state govt in same way. It says to pay wages to workers in period of lock down. Dharna is led by 5 union JAC i.e. IFTU, AITUC, CITU, INTUC and TNTUC. Dist administration assured to take proper action immediately. It is biggest gathering in lock down period. Police in their style made many attempts to foil it, but workers stood firmly unitedly. Finally the dist administration is forced to give said assurance.

-Reports by IFTU  AP State President Com. P. Prasad