To save the Paper Mill industry and its workers in Assam, the Joint Movement Forum is going to launch a scrupulous protest from January 8 demanding the removal of the public sale tender of the Nagaon Paper Mill (NPM), Jagiroad and the Cachar Paper Mill (CPM), Panchgram.
While the whole country is burning with the CAA and JNU attack, children of paper mill workers in Assam have allegedly come out on the streets—not to protest, but beg. It has been reported that for the past three years, employees of Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district, Assam, have not received their salaries. The same is happening with the Nagaon Paper Mill (NPM), Jagiroad, Assam.
Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has ordered the Union ministry of heavy industries to put forward its report on the two non-operational and redundant paper mills in Assam on or before January 16, 2020, or its secretary to appear in person on January 23, 2020, in connection with a petition filed by the Cachar Paper Project Workers’ Union.
Since October 2015 and March 2017, both the mills have been lying non-functional way, and the workers have not received salaries for the past 35 and 33 months correspondingly. The workers haven’t seen any festivity in their houses for a long period of time, and the circumstances have only been shoddier. With tears in his eyes, a student said, “What can we do? We can’t ask for money from our parents. My father and other employees of the two paper mills have not got salaries for more than three years. Imagine what our situation could be!”
The general secretary of the Cachar Paper Mill Officers and Supervisors Association, Dipak Chandra Nath said,“a group of 25 to 30 children of the paper mill employees came out on the streets at Panchgram on Wednesday and collected donations from the residents. The children were holding placards, to make the citizens aware of their difficulties in an attempt to make their circumstance known to the government. Imagine the unsympathetic impact of poverty and helplessness of their parents on these children. Uncertain present, uncertain future… everything is a mess.”
The president of the workers’ union, Manabendra Chakraborty, also said, “he had already filed a petition in 2016 about the issues related to provident fund and pension and sought the NHRC’s involvement. The commission, in the end, took up the matter with the Union ministry of heavy industries, but the latter never submitted a report or appeared in person before it. They kept delaying the whole process, citing different reasons. The NHRC has also asked the ministry to explain the delay. We have submitted a review petition with the commission in 2017 after our salaries were stopped.”
At present, 450 of the 888 staff quarters are occupied, and the children are now begging on the streets. The general secretary of Cachar Paper Project Workers and Employees Union (Independent), Azizur Rahman Mazumder, said that they would not leave the quarters till their dues are cleared. He also said even those who had retired had not been paid their financial benefits.