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CALCUTTA-Press Workers Strike

Press Workers' Strike Timir Basu SOME one lakh workers of printing presses and allied industries throughout West Bengal have been on strike since December 13, 1978. The strike Las already made its impact. Railings and walls, 'owned

LABOUR-Porters of Howrah Goods Shed

ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL, WEEKLY 1975 and then rose by 20.4 per cent It is not, of course, that this type or distortion of the industrial production structure made its appearance only during the Emergency. Thus output of 'perfumes and cosmetics' rose by 23.6 per cent in 1977 and further by 56.9 per cent in the first quarter of 1978; during the same period the production index for 'beverages' went up by 14.5 per cent and 23.5 per cent and that for 'airconditioners and refrigerators' by 20.4 per cent and 19.4 per cent, respectively. These increases, moreover, have been on a higher base.

LABOUR-Ship Watchmen Broken Commitments

pendence on the international trading system through a policy of maintaining an overvalued exchange rate for the rouble. The exchange rate between rupee and the rouble, really speaking, does not directly influence the volume of current trade under the rupee trade and payments agreement. Under the system both the countries quote he prices of their commodities in rupees and so long as the prices quoted are attractive or competitive, trade would continue to take place. All along prices normally quoted by the USSR supliers are such that they are comparable with those that are quoed by other suppliers to India or what the USSR suppliers would earn by directing their exports to he rest of the world. Similarly, Indian exports to the USSR are at the same prices as applicable to India's exports to the rest of the world. Under such an arrangement the exchange rate is of no direct relevance so long as the prices quoted for Indian and Russian goods continue to be in Indian rupees and payments are settled on a current basis. The exchange rate matter has relevance only for two types of transations, viz, goods supplied by the USSR on long- term credit basis and the settlement of invisible transactions. Since transactions relating to invisibles are relatively small, the main relevance of the exchange rate is in regard to goods obtained by India on credit. In fact the dispute between India and the USSR exclusively centered on the repayment obligations of India to the USSR in respect of the long-term credits.

LABOUR-Cheated by Delay

LABOUR Cheated by Delay Timir Basu THE captains of industry in West Bengal have never had such a peaceful time, perhaps not even during the Emergency. The central trade unions, which virtually took a holiday between June 1975 and the beginning of 1977, are still in a moribund state.

LABOUR-Operation Santaldih

Operation Santaldih Timir Basu "IN exercise of powers conferred by Board's Resolution No 16 dated 5-8- 1963, sanction is hereby accorded for creation of posts ... for a period of six months from the date of joining of the employee concerned in the new posts simultaneously keeping in abeyance the existing posts." This is part of an office order dated June 5, 1978, issued by the West Bengal State Electricity Board (WBSEB). The order was issued to enable the sudden, punitive transfer of 16 workmen of the Santaldih power plant.

LABOUR-Postal Department s Bonded Labour

soon found" that they were not making much progress in their bid to make their lobbies strong and effective at the government and administrative level through these tactics.

LABOUR-One More Demonstration, One More Reminder

rigours. The election was round the corner and the DMK was getting a substantial mileage out of the prison atrocities to the discomfiture of Congress and AIADMK. It was then that Vidyasagar decided that his reputation was tarnished and decided to move the courts to restrain further speeches on the central prison happenings. He therefore wrote a letter on February 28 to the government seeking permission and financial assistance for this purpose. The letter was received by the IG of Prisons who forwarded it to the Home Department on February 28. The Assistant Secretary, Home Department approved the application and passed it on to the Law Secretary on February 28. The Law Secretary approved it on February 28; The Chief Secretary was informed of the matter on February 28. The Adviser to the Governor gave his final approval also on February 28. A government order to this effect was issued on February 28., After receiving the government order, Vidyasagar still had enough time to file his suit in the court on February 28! Justice Ismail's well written report has a second part to it dealing with recommendations for improvement of prison conditions. This may, following established custom enter the archival records, but the first part, relating to findings needs to be acted upon

LABOUR

strike in the face of government suppression and formed a Joint Action Council along with the other pro-DMK union and several other category-wise organisations.

WEST BENGAL-Dividends, Yes Bonus, No

contractors. Of the rest 33 per cent of the contracts were awarded to contracting consortia including a Pakistani element and 56 per cent went to wholly foreign contractors.

WEST BENGAL-Closure of a Hospital

Marwari Relief Society at 227, Rabin- dra Sarani, Calcutta, has been closed 'indefinitely' since October 29, 1977. The closure of the hospital has been in response to the strike by its 400 poorly paid staff that had begun on October 10, and for which due notice had been served on September 15. Apart from wages and working conditions, a major demand of the striking workers has been the reinstatement of the dismissed union secretary. The: victimisation of the union secretary was clearly aimed at breaking the union. In fact, the issue has been ranging fire for nearly two years and the workers would have gone on strike much earlier but for hopes of the issue being resolved through government's interference. But even the minister's interference has had no effect on the management and the workers had to finally resort to strike from October 10; the management replied by closing down the hospital.

LABOUR-Hosiery Workers of Calcutta

December 17, 1977 The Committee, despite all its experiences, still had some hope in the possible implementation of the scheme. The visits to ministers and officials con- tinued, the memoranda continued, but to scant avail. The Committee requested a conference to discuss the matter, but this was put off again and again because one or the other official could not attend "as the date mentioned was not suitable". By sheer force of inertia internal memos on the scheme continued to be written, in delightfully vague officialese. For example, memo number TA 3-21536/75 dated blank- 7.75 from the Director of Agriculture to the Agriculture Secretary that "certain details are being collected from the officers concerned on the follow-up action". The Agriculture Secretary did not bo- ther to enquire too closely as to what these 'details' were, and whether after so much study more details were needed. On 28.4.1975 yet another high- level conference took place in the chamber of the PWD Minister at which, inter alia the following decision was taken and duly recorded: "The works relating to forming a canal by the southern side of Aakulam kayal and deepening of TS canal from Muttana bund to Veli railway bridge may be taken up immediately. And for this Chief Engineer may expedite technical sanction." By the time the Chief Engineer finally gave technical sanction the cost had mounted, and hence a fresh Government Order was needed. This was issued on 7.2.1976 by the Secretary tc Government of the Water and Powei (Irrigation) Department. The sanction given was for a sum of Rs 34.30 lakhs, To date, however, the scheme has no! been implemented, and the cost estimate has risen to nearly Rs 45 lakhs a; opposed to Rs 26 lakhs had the scheme been completed in 1967. In the mean, time the Harijans of Aakulam are stil without their land or huts and flood still sweep low-lying areas of Trivan drum city, killing many children each year and adding to the burden of the city's inhabitants. As for the Aakulan Kayal Reclamation Committee, its mem bers are still making feeble efforts bringing the attention of such divers institutions as the Centre for Develop ment Studies (based in Aakulam) and the NCC corps to the scheme, in the hope that these bodies would petition the authorities on behalf of the Aaku- lam people. The Committee has also suggested that in case the Government departments do not want to implement the scheme, "agencies like the Land Mortgage Bank, Land Development Corporation and SFDA, etc" may be asked to do the job.

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