TWO THOUSAND FACTORY WORKERS AND LOCAL RESIDENTS BLOCKED TRAFFIC AT PAONTA AREA OF HIMACHAL

Agitators shouted slogans against district administration for its alleged failure to resolve the issue.

Resorting to its ultimatum served to the district administration last week, over two thousand residents of five Panchyats of Paonta area and workers of a shoe factory situated in the Bangran village of Paonta Sub Division today took out a protest march in the Paonta town and blocked traffic for nearly two hours at ‘Y’ point on the national highway.

Agitators shouted slogans against the district administration, Labour department and factory administration. They alleged that despite one month long agitation of the factory workers administration and Labour department had totally failed to persuade the factory owner to reemploy the retrenched workers of the factory. Villagers alleged that ‘administration was responsible for creating such situation’. ‘When administration did nothing, residents of the area had no option but to come out to get justice for our brothers and sisters who were removed from the job by the factory owners’, commented Jahangir Ali, Panchyat President of Nawada Panchyat of the area.

Angry people of the area demanded that such matters should be settled once for all. ‘Government should provide security of job atleast for Himachalies in the private factories so that their exploitation by the factory owners was stopped’, demanded Ram Pal, President of Phool Pur Panchyat and a large number of villagers sitting on Dharna on the National Highway. They demanded that such situations had become almost a daily feature with the Himachali workers working in the factories, they were being suppressed, exploited and shunted out from their jobs without any prior notice, so this matter be settled once for all’ they mantained.

Paonta Police tried hard to persuade the villagers to lift Jam from the main road but failed. Ultimately SDM Paonta Amita Mahajan and Dy S.P. Shubra Tiwari persuaded the angry agitators to come on the table of discussion and lift the blocked. They assured the agitators to resolve the matter with the administrative interference. On this assurance agitators lifted the blocked. SDM and DY SP were holding the meeting with the representatives of local Panchyats and workers and factory administration for the past two hours but till these lines were written no decision had come out.

In the industrial history of Paonta area it was the first time that local people turned in such huge number in support of the factory workers. Villagers had warned that they would take stringent action if the matter was not resolved immediately.

The month long agitation of the factory workers turned into the indefinite hunger strike about two weeks back. Today indefinite hunger strike by eight employees entered in the eight day. The condition of striking workers was continuously deteriorating due to hot weather conditions which had caused concern among the villagers of surrounding area who assembles hundreds in numbers to extend their support to the workers every day at striking site.

As per the reports four striking employees who were picked up by the police two days back had refused to take glucose drip in the Paonta and Nahan district Hospitals. Four more employees had joined the hunger strike on that very day. District administration could not solve the matter.

On Saturday, Labour officer hold talks with the factory administration and representatives of factory employees on the demands of workers to reemploy the retrenched employees of the factory at Nahan but due to reported adamant attitude of factory management the matter could not be solved. As per sources the factory officers agreed to give job only for two girls in the Bangran factory out of the total retrenched employees, which was rejected by the workers. No fresh move was made by the district administration after this failure to break this deadlock despite the fact that villagers had already served the ultimatum to block the traffic on the national highway at Paonta on 4th June.

Working as district correspondent with The Tribune & Danik Tribune in Sirmour.

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