Kolkata, Aug 9 IANS | 4 months ago

India's oldest engineering company Jessop and Co, which had suspended operations at its Dum Dum factory near here nearly three months ago, reopened its gates Saturday.

The 226-year old firm, which has in the past built iconic structures such as the Howrah Bridge and the Vidyasagar Bridge over the river Hooghly, now employs 650 workers.

The management of the company had announced suspension of operations May 15 alleging that "continuous malicious intervention of outsiders in the functioning of the plant" had "resulted in overall disruption of its plan to revamp operations". The Pawan Kumar Ruia group-controlled company had also cited "theft" and "indiscipline" in the plant as propelling factors behind the decision. The plant was hardly operational for the past one year.

At a function marking the reopening, the workers were handed over a month's salary cheque. The pending salary dues would be cleared in 24 instalments, Ruia announced.

"It is a day of joy for all of us. The government is with the workers. They can now work and earn. At the same time, the government is ready to help out the management to tide over its problems. If there is any issue we will solve it through talks," said West Bengal finance and industries minister Amit Mitra. State Labour minister Moloy Ghatak was also present.

Ahead of the reopening, a tripartite meeting was held Aug 6. Labour minister Moloy Ghatak had then said a monitoring committee would be formed to study the feasibility of productivity, as demanded by the management.

Founded in 1788 as Breen and Company, the firm was re-christened Jessop and Co in 1820. The central government took over its management in 1958 and then the company as a whole in 1973. Over the years, the company started making losses. In 2003, the government sold its 72 percent stake to Ruia.

The reopening of Jessop comes as a major relief to the Mamata Banerjee government, which has been drawing flak after old companies like Shalimar Paints and Hindustan Motors announced suspension of work at their facilities in the state.

(Posted on 10-08-2014)

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