Assam government to acquire assets of Hindustan Paper and provide Rs 570 cr package to employees

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The Assam government will acquire the assets of the two closed factories of Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd and provide financial assistance of Rs 570 crore to its employees, in accordance with an agreement reached in the early hours of Wednesday.

The discussion between the government and the unions of the two paper mills continued for more than four hours at the office of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, after which the agreement was signed.

“Finally, we came to an agreement with the workers and employees of Hindustan Paper Corporation to resolve long-standing issues regarding their wages and dues. The discussion lasted over four hours in my office and ended. at 2 a.m., “Sarma tweeted.

The Cachar paper mill in Panchgram in Hailakandi district has not been operational since October 2015, while the Nagaon paper mill in Jagiroad in Morigaon district has been closed since March 2017. Since the closure of both factories, 95 employees died, four of whom are said to have committed suicide. , mainly due to the lack of proper treatment as they have not received wages or dues in the past 55 months, according to the unions.

The agreement was signed by Sarma and Minister of Industry Chandra Mohan Patowary, and representatives of employee associations.

In accordance with the agreement, the government of Assam will apply to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) through the official liquidator for the takeover of all assets of the factories and employee organizations will ensure that that homes, premises, buildings and other assets are smooth, unhindered and not challenged in court.

The relief amount of Rs 570 crore will only be granted to employees once they have vacated the property. However, for humanitarian reasons, an extension of one month may be granted to vacate the premises.

The state government will endeavor to disburse the relief program, including employment, within two months of the date of approval by the NCLT, in accordance with the agreement.

The state government will provide employment for 100 officers and workers according to their qualifications and equivalent to the state government salary scale through a special recruitment drive, which will ignore their limit of employment. upper age. They will receive the PF, the gratuity and the pension due, but not the unpaid wages.

The government will also make it easier for employees who were unable to complete their services due to the closure of factories to obtain priority employment in the field stationery industries in the future.

The agreement took into account unpaid contributions to the provident fund (PF), gratuities, pension claims, salaries and other contributions from the date of non-payment until the date of the start of the liquidation process.

The state government will also provide free assistance to contract workers in cooperatives to ensure they have a subsistence minimum, while LIC bonuses and home loan IMEs deducted from wages would be paid by the government, afterwards. admission by the liquidator.

The state government will also work with the Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) Sangathan to convert the KVs located in the project plant complexes to the civilian sector, and assist the plant employee departments in these schools to gain admission. in any other KV of their choice. .

All employees who have already reached the age of 58 will receive pensions through the respective PF commissioners in Guwahati and Kolkata, which have been deducted from their salaries but not deposited, as per the agreement.

The state government will also provide permanent government jobs for physicians, ANMs and other paramedics at entry-level factory health facilities, while school teachers in factory complexes will benefit. a relief of 24 months of salary, PF, gratuity and pension, which was deducted from their salaries.

“We are grateful that the precarious condition of the employees touched the heart of the Chief Minister and he decided to take the initiative to resolve the various issues and we are sure that the terms of the agreement will be followed and implemented in the deadline, ”said the Joint Action Committee of Recognized Unions (JACRU) of the two factories.

The BJP government had promised to revive the paper factories after Sarbananda Sonowal came to power in 2016, and even during the campaign for this year’s parliamentary elections, the party assured that action would be taken on the matter.

The NCLT, after several rounds of all-stakeholder meetings and a number of hearings, ordered the liquidator on April 26 to sell Hindustan Paper Corporation in accordance with the decision of the National Company Law Appeals Tribunal (NCLAT) .

As a result, liquidator Kuldeep Verma had posted announcements on June 1, soliciting bids for the company’s electronic auction at a reserve price of Rs 1,139, but there had been no bidders until the last time. date of June 15.

Subsequently, on June 22, a new auction notice for the sale of the two mills was issued by the liquidator at a reserve price of Rs 969 crore, which is Rs 170 less than the previous price.

The liquidator had also given formal notice to 900 employees on September 3, asking them to “leave the occupied accommodation / neighborhood within 15 days by giving the liquidator free, physical and peaceful possession, failing which legal action will be taken. to repossess vacant accommodation / quarters “.

The notice, which was then temporarily suspended, was issued individually to all occupants and also sent to all employee associations / workers’ unions at the old paper mills.

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Posted on: Wednesday September 29, 2021 13:46 IST


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