Over 2,500 NTC workers stop work for non-payment of salaries for 8 months
After the protest on June 2, a meeting was held among the workers and the officer in charge, who assured the workers he was doing his part to get the funds for their salary released, with the caveat that it would be only 50% of the total
Mumbai: Over 2,500 workers of the National Textiles Corporation (NTC) in the city have stopped work from June 1 to protest the nonpayment of their salaries for the last eight months. The workers, including the ones at NTC office and mill employees, who are struggling to support their families and unable to buy groceries or pay bills on time, said they have not been given medical benefits, and that gratuities have been blocked since 2020.
This is the condition of all NTC staff, affecting 12,000, across the country, said an office-bearer of NTC Employees Welfare Forum. There are around 750 office workers of NTC in the city, the rest are mill workers.
One of the workers said none of them, including the officer in charge (OIC), P Kungumaraju, have been paid their dues.
The three last functional mills under the NTC - namely, Tata, Podar, India United and Digvijay - have been shut since the onset of COVID-19 in 2020. Another, Digvijay, was closed a year prior. Seema Sansare, union leader, attributes the non-payment of salaries and benefits to a shortage of funds.
The mill workers, most of whom are without work, were being paid 50% of their salaries after COVID-19.
“There’s no clarity if they’re going to restart or shut the mills,” said Seema. “The management’s response is that they’ve asked the Textile Ministry for money, so we will get it when they send it.” She mentions the ₹120 crore TDR awaited from the redevelopment of the mill chawls, which would be used to pay the workers but is not in yet.
“I need to get an eye operation, but how can I do it without medical benefits?” she asks. Seema has worked at the NTC for 34 years and expects a salary of ₹78,000 per month.
Another worker, Bharti Dediya, a single woman, said, “We’ve worked without pay for eight months. I’ve had to take money out from my provident fund account (PF) at ₹10,000 interest.”
A mill worker who has been working in the mills for around 20 years and was paid between ₹15,000 to ₹20,000, said, “Food has become a worry.”
“All the 23 mills in India have been kept shut since COVID-19,” said Anna Shirsekar, vice president of the union Rashtriya Mill Mazdoor Sangh. “Despite the industrial court’s order to pay workers the entire salary, they still haven’t.”
After the protest on June 2, a meeting was held among the workers and the officer in charge, who assured the workers he was doing his part to get the funds for their salary released, with the caveat that it would be only 50% of the total. Another worker brought to notice that the corporation’s workers in Delhi were given medical care at 50%, but the same was not done in Mumbai. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Supriya Sule and Shiv Sena (UBT) MP from South Mumbai Arvind Sawant were present.
A notice put up at the NTC head office reads, “The undersigned along with senior manager (HR/Legal) called upon all the employees for their peaceful co-operation and informed them that funds for salary/wages are expected within another 2 weeks, It is also requested of all employees not to resort to any illegal steps disturbing the routine office work.”