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Indian Dunlop Units Set to Reopen in April

(India/Rubber Asia) At the end of what seems like an agonizingly endless wait, the gates of the Dunlop factory at Sahagunj, in the eastern State of Communist-ruled West Bengal, and the one at Ambattur near Chennai in the southern State of Tamil Nadu, are set to re-open in April, if nothing else intervenes in between, local media reports said.

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“Maintenance work will start probably by early early-April at both the units,” an official spokesman for the Ruia group, which now controls Dunlop India Ltd. (DIL), has said.

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The labour agreements under negotiation since Pawan Ruia took over the reins in December last are also in the final stages, and the agreement for the Ambattur unit will be signed any day now, a Dunlop Factory Employees Union office-bearer was quoted as saying.

According to the unionist, the employees were likely to start with a pay which is 20% lower than what they were getting in 2002 when the unit was shut down, with an annual increment of Rs. 100. Wage arrears have been fixed at Rs. 10,000 for the 1,200 people now on the rolls.

Even as trimming of the workforce is being discussed, a tentative figure of 300 has been arrived at and ERS (early retirement scheme) payments are likely to be in the region of Rs. 75,000 to Rs. 120,000. The unionist, who is also a member of the Indian parliament, Mr. Krishanaswamy, said that as per schedule, maintenance work would start before Apr. 15, with plant reopening scheduled four months later.

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As for the agreement at the Sahagunj factory, Santasri Chatterjee, a Communist Party MP, said it had been decided that about 1,400 people out of a total workforce of 2,500 would be retained “to start with.”

Ruia has sought from the West Bengal Government the status of a “relief undertaking” for DIL, according to the company spokesman.

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