Hindustan Motors
Home Search Contact us Save Print
Hind Motors’ workers vote for Buddha reforms

The Indian Express | Kolkata | January 10, 2008

KOLKATA, JANUARY 9: Workers at the Uttarpara factory of Hindustan Motors Ltd, one of the oldest manufacturing facilities in West Bengal, have voted convincingly for Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s agenda of keeping the trade union movement free from militancy.

In the elections on Wednesday, to pick a union that will negotiate with the CK Birla management on behalf of the workers for the next two years, 49 per cent of the votes cast went to the CITU, the CPI(M) labour wing that had opposed a 61-day strike at the plant last year. From March 13 to May 11, the factory had been crippled by the Sangrami Shramik Karmachari Union, the union then in power, which was backed by Naxalite factions.

Political circles saw the support for CITU as a referendum for the CM’s industry-friendly approach. The CITU had been a virulent opponent of Bhattacharjee in his first term as CM, but has mellowed considerably.

Kali Ghosh, CITU’s state secretary, admitted that the voting pattern was a referendum. “Workers are accepting CITU’s new role of striving for peaceful industrial relations,” Ghosh said. “We had been able to explain our agenda to the workers.”

In the 2005 elections, the SSKU had secured 62 per cent of the votes. At that time, the SSKU was the joint platform of a Naxalite group and the AITUC, CPI’s labour arm. But the SSKU split, leading to the formation of the CPI-led Sangrami Shramik Union (SSU) while the Naxals remained in control at the SSKU.

AITUC state secretary, Ranjit Guha, however, claimed the results were not an endorsement of the CM’s approach. “This happened because of the split in our union,” Guha said.

Ghosh dismissed this, pointing out that the two together had not managed to get the 62 per cent vote share of 2005. “Our votes have gone up because workers feel industrialisation is essential, in the backdrop of Singur,” said Ghosh.

The results seemed to have surprised the SSKU, whose leader, Amitabha Bhattacharya, had combined forces with Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee when she was protesting farmland acquisition in Singur. While voting was on, the SSKU leader had stressed that it would be a referendum on whether the workers want strikes or not.


Back to News Room