Rivals' hand hinted behind Assam Carbon's 7-month lock-out

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Guwahati, Jul 5 (UNI) After more than seven months of lock-out in the Assam Carbon Products Ltd, the company today hinted at the possible involvement of its competitors in instigating the workers to go for strike.

''Our competitors could be behind the impasse over the lock-out, though we have no proof to back our claim and hence, we are refraining from naming anybody,'' General Manager (Operations) of Assam Carbon G P Chawla said at a press conference here.

He informed that their competitors were Le Carbon, a French company, and Schunk, a German company. Of the two, the first is the major competitor, who had an executive director from Guwahati, formerly with Assam Carbon.

Mr Chawla, however, refused to point the accusing finger at any of the companies for lack of evidence.

The company, with an average annual turnover of Rs 20 crore, has incurred a loss of Rs five crore in the last seven months.

Established in 1963, long before special dollops were offered to industries in North East, Assam Carbon Products Ltd are manufacturers of morganite electrical and mechanical carbon materials and components, with the Railways being their main customer.

The management of Assam Carbon had declared a lock-out on November 29 last year after workers halted all production work for the two previous days, Mr Chawla said, alleging that the union had disregarded an agreement of October 15 and 16, signed on the arbitration of state Labour department, and resorted to agitation over settled issues.

The union had started the agitations since July 10 last year over appointment of diploma holders as trainees and the matter was settled in the agreement in October, the GM added.

Alleging that the union was employing delay tactics and did not want the lock-out to be lifted, he pointed that the union had approached the Labour department for settlement two months after the lock-out and were adopting an adamant stand even after a mutual agreement was again signed on April 6.

It was decided to refer the matter of wage payment for the period of lock-out to the Labour Court but the union has demanded the salaries before the verdict, Mr Chawla said, which has led to the present impasse.

He said the company was ready to lift the lock-out if the workers abided by the agreement, and informed that 60-65 workers of the total 274 work force have approached the management directly for re-opening the company.

Refusing to spell out the company's next step if the impasse continued, Mr Chawla indicated that the workers could have to face the wrath of the management.


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