Shalimar Paints, one of the largest and oldest paint manufacturing companies in eastern India, declared an indefinite “suspension of work” at its Howrah unit on Wednesday. The announcement spurred an agitation by nearly 1,000 workers at the factory gates.
The Shalimar Paints management in an official statement stated that there was an “unfortunate” fire at the Howrah factory in March 2014.
The company claimed that over the past four months, it made all efforts to resume operations and paid full wages even though production was stalled. “However, with indefinite delay in starting the plant, we are constrained to suspend operations,” the statement mentioned.
The management further stated that keeping the workers’ interests in mind, the company would ensure job continuity to the workers by offering them employment in other plants and depots of the company across India. “Shalimar is committed to West Bengal and all our actions are in the direction of increasing our presence in the state,” the company stated.
The company website showed it has three manufacturing plants and as many as 54 branches and depots across the country.
The company opened its Nashik plant in 1992 and its Secunderabad unit in 2003. The original foreign owners of the company sold the company to Indians in 1998.
An official of the state labour department said there were demonstrations outside the Howrah factory after workers came to know about the notice. The factory has about 1,000 workers, including permanent and casual-contractual employees.
A majority of the staff is affiliated to the All India Trinamool Trade Union Congress (AITTUC). Dipak Dasgupta, a CITU district leader of Howrah, said he had no knowledge about the factory closure.
Sumita Mukherjee, a deputy secretary of the labour department, said the government would soon invite the management and workers for a meeting and efforts would be made to thrash out a solution. The government had received the suspension of work notice issued by the company, said Mukherjee.