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Dispur ignores HC, denies justice to APOL workers

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  22 May 2015 12:00 AM GMT

* VRS demand committee complains to PM, Guwahati HC Chief Justice

* APOL magement cheated workers of CPF, LIC premium & other dues


GUWAHATI, May 21: At a time when Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is tomtomming his government’s achievements in the last 14 years, employees of a public sector undertaking that was shut down twelve years ago are moving from pillar to post seeking justice.

Around 400 workers and staff who were working at Assam Polyester Co-Operative Society Ltd (APOL) at Rangiya, who have been demanding VRS, have now written to the Prime Minister as well as the Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court seeking their intervention.

APOL was a public enterprise under the Cooperative department of the State government which started operations in 1987. It had around 1,200 direct employees and about 1,000 others were employed indirectly at that time. After the demise of the founder chairman Col UN Sarmah (former Chief Secretary of Himachal Pradesh), the industry was chaired by RC Baruah. It was during Baruah’s time when the industry was declared closed on December 25, 2003.

“The magement did not think about the future of the employees. In fact, they did not even deposit the CPF contribution, LIC premium deducted from the monthly salary of the employees and bank installments deducted from salary against employee’s persol loan etc taken from Assam Gramin Vikash Bank,” Pramath Kumar Barooah, president of the VRS demand committee of the employees stated in separate letters to the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court.

All the employees were working at the industry on permanent basis. Appeals to either revive the industry or settle the employees accounts fell in deaf ears.

The employees then appealed at the Gauhati High Court for VRS as the industry was owned by the State government with 99.99 per cent shares. The court in its verdict in 2009, asked the government to settle the grievances by giving VRS to the employees from the fund to be received from tiol Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC).

But nothing was done by the government and employees also failed to file a contempt case due to fincial constraints.

In the meantime, about 30 employees expired and some of them committed suicide out of sheer frustration.

The employees again filed a suit against the magement at the High Court which again directed the government to settle the matter by January 31, 2015. Even then, the government did not carry out the court’s directive.

The employees also alleged that 80 per cent of the machineries (valued at Rs 10 crore) of the industry has been sold at a nomil price of Rs 1.05 crore.

The employees, in their letter, further alleged that the magement opened several CPF accounts to cover-up the old outstanding dues.

The industry, according to the employees, had also violated the Indian Factories Act 1948 in terms of provisions for medical aid in the factory campus, overtime hours and drinking water supply.

“As the employees have no funds to approach the court again, we have now written to the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice seeking their intervention. We desperately hope justice is done this time,” Barooah said.

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