The demonetization demon has claimed another victim in Bengal. On Wednesday, the Empire Jute Mill in North 24-Parganas downed shutters after the 3,000-odd workers refused the management’s decision to transfer their wages into their bank accounts. Most workers do not have bank accounts.
This is the second jute mill to close down due to the acute cash crunch. Last week, Sree Hanuman Jute Mill in Howrah shut its gates citing its inability to pay workers their weekly wages in cash. A tea garden in North Bengal has also temporarily shut operations for the same reason.
“We were forced to suspend operations because of the labour unrest fomented by workers who do not have bank accounts. We have paid wages to all those who have bank accounts but there is not enough money to pay wages in cash,” Jagdish Sarda, owner of the mill, told HT.
According to sources, a section of the workers of Empire Jute Mill at Titagarh had been agitating over the past few days over non-payment of wages for two fortnights. “The weekly bank withdrawal limit is Rs 50,000 whereas we need nearly Rs 35 lakh in cash to pay wages that are due for the past two fortnights,” Sarda said.
Sarada said the management had decided to go cashless even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his demonetisation announcement and nearly 90% of the workers are paid wages through bank transactions.