Jammu and Kashmir Police Friday lobbed teargas shells and resorted to lathicharge to disperse over 5,000 workers of the Chenab Textile Mill, who first ransacked their administrative block in protest over the deduction of their wages by the management and then damaged a police gypsy along the Jammu-Pathankot national highway when police tried to intervene.
Trouble started around 8.45 am when a mob of nearly 3,000-strong workers living in jhuggis outside the CTM, part of Birla Group of Industries, entered the administrative block and started ransacking the office furniture and records. They threw the furniture and office files out on the national highway passing outside the industrial unit.
In the meantime, workers working inside the unit also came out and joined the protesters in raising slogans against the management. The protesters accused the management of being indifferent to factory workers’ plight, asking how they can run their families with such a meager amount.
The protest continued for nearly three hours, and during the entire period, the social distancing norm was blatantly violated.
The CTM’s operation head and Executive Vice-President Kamal Kumar Kamila said they had paid 50 per cent of the wage to workers only for the period they did not come for work in view of the lockdown. Pointing out that CTM resumed its operations on the night of April 20, he said that those working since then have been paid full wages for the period between April 21-30.
The workers were already informed about payment of 50 per cent wages during the lockdown period when unit remained closed and the management had put notice also on the notice board as well, Kamal Kumar said. “As some union leaders have already gone to the Supreme Court against a wage cut, we had told workers that they will be released the remaining wages also if court directed to pay full wages even for the lockdown period. However, if it decided in favour of no work – no wages, we will not ask for recovery,” he added.