GUWAHATI: An employee of Cachar Paper Mill passed away at his residence at Panchgram in Hailakandi district on Sunday night, taking the death toll of workers of two Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited (HPCL)-owned ‘closed’ paper mills, including Nagaon Paper Mill, to 101.
The deceased person, Bazlul Hakim Laskar (63), who worked as a technician (recovery electrical department) at Cachar Paper Mill, was suffering from prolonged diabetes and kidney-related ailments, but could not afford necessary treatment owing to financial crisis.
“Around 11pm on Sunday night, his health deteriorated and he breathed his last at his residence. Like the other employees of the two paper mills, Bazlul too had not got his salary for over four-and-a-half years. His last rites were performed on Monday,” sources told EastMojo on Monday.
Reacting on the rising toll of employees of the two mills, Manobendra Chakraborty, president of the Joint Action Committee of Recognised Unions (JACRU) of the two mills, said it is really unfortunate that the employees of the two mills were dying helplessly one after another owing to their inability to afford medical treatment because of financial crunch.
“As a matter of fact, all workers of the mills are passing days with unbearable suffering, stress and trauma as they have lost all hope to live life with human dignity as they have not been paid salary since the past 62 months,” Chakraborty said.
He blamed the government for the deaths of the employees and hoped the government would wake from its slumber and realise its responsibility of remitting the dues of the mills’ employees soon.
The JACRU president further stressed that the dues of the mills’ employees be remitted immediately to avoid any more deaths and threatened to launch a democratic movement if the demand is not fulfilled.
On September 28 last year, there was “relief and optimism when the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led state government and the workers’ representatives reached an agreement to resolve their pending issues of salary payment and other dues after a marathon meeting.
According to the agreement, a relief package of Rs 570 crore was to be disbursed for the employees within two months on approval by the National Company Law Tribunal of the proposal submitted by the Assam government.
Chief minister Sarma, while addressing the Assam Assembly on the first day of the budget session on Monday, said that the government was moving ahead with sincerity in this regard and that the process of providing relief, including pending salaries and dues, to the workers would be completed soon.
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