The Lesson Titilagarh Teaches: Proprietors of Industries are Not the Owners of the Workers


Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Titilagarh is a piece of peaceful highland. Its inhabitants were accustomed to the exploitation by the princes from generation to generation. They are accustomed to post-independence exploitation by political mafia and their allies, the traders. Yet a factory manager stationed there has succumbed to burn injuries received under circumstances of industrial unrest. He is A.K.Ray, Deputy General manager of Powmex Steel ltd. Tortured workers allegedly torched his vehicle at the main gate of the factory.

For last many months Powmex was under avoidable unrest as the management was not heeding to workers’ demand for fair wages. Their union leaders were subjected to ruthless oppression, suspension and termination, simply because their demands for a pay package for the workers with proper standing orders were anathema to the motive of the employer.

Powmex is a private industry and moneyed persons may be proprietors of private industries when an elected government serves capitalism. But sadly, industrial proprietors pride in themselves as proprietors of the workers that serve their industries and hence they never tolerate any demand for better service condition of the workers. And the exploitive State collaborates with them by providing protection to industries to the extent of pressing the police against the workers and in pampering a judiciary that, as in Bajaj Automobile case, punishes the workers to protect the employer’s interest. Labor law machinery serves the industries than the workers.

In such an environment, if Titilagarh takes a drastic turn, who to blame?

No body knows who set the manager’s vehicle to fire. But the right-wingers have started vomiting that the miscreants must be the dismissed / suspended workers.

We certainly feel sad over the untimely death of the factory’s DGM. But, to us, it is an instance of how workers’ wrath may manifest if exploitation goes on unabated.

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