This company is directly under the state’s Information and Cultural Affairs department, a portfolio held by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. The company is to be restructured with funds released by the Department for International Development (DFID) — an arm of the British government that manages aid to other countries.
On Tuesday, trade unions, including that endorsed by the Left-backed Centre of Indian Trade Unions or CITU, protested before the management, after officials issued a notice for the company’s restructuring. As the first step in this process, the management on Tuesday put up the schedule for the Early Retirement Scheme (ERS) for employees. The notice also spoke of when cheques would be disbursed and gave the option for choosing the ERS.
The notice greeted employees when they walked in to the company premises at 166, BB Ganguly Street at 11 am. It was immediately pulled down. A little later, the company’s two unions — one affiliated to CPM and the other to the Trinamool Congress — held separate agitations against the company’s decision.
Till evening, agitators gheraoed Samaresh Mitra, the financial advisor and chief accounts officer of the corporation, who has been deputed by the state’s finance department to look into the restructuring process. The unions demanded that the notice be withdrawn immediately.
The government, however, will not go back on its decision to save what it has declared a “structurally unviable” organisation. The state had also decided to close it down. Sources in the CM’s secretariat said the restructuring was scheduled to start much earlier but Bhattacharjee intervened to make the compensation package more substantial.
A senior officer said the initial package has now been doubled. Director of Information Niloy Ghosh said: “The government has taken a decision to reconstruct Basumati Corporation. If employees want to talk about compensation, we are ready.” The state has decided to bring 212 employees under the retirement scheme. Ghosh said, “Even casual and contract employees will be offered compensation package.” It is learnt the company has not made any permanent appointment in the last ten years as it was a loss-making concern.
But the unions are not giving up. Members of the CITU-backed Basumati Corporation Employees Union contacted the Information department’s Principal Secretary D K Chakraborty in the evening. Sources said they will meet him on November 21 to further talks.
Hearing about the meeting, secretary of the TMC-backed Basumati Bachao Committee Sarbajit Basu alleged the CITU was sealing an ‘under-the-table deal’ with the government. “We will not allow restructuring. If need be, we shall involve Mamata Banerjee in our movement,” Basu said.