‘Mismanagement’ pushing Purabi Dairy to brink

GUWAHATI, Jan 10 – Alleging mismanagement and lack of transparency in running of the West Assam Milk Producers’ Cooperative Union Ltd (WAMUL), popularly known as Purabi Dairy, the employees’ union today said that they were being pushed to the brink after handing over of the cooperative’s management to the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) following a tripartite agreement between the State Government, NDDB and WAMUL on April 2, 2008. “WAMUL recruited employees from different sectors, including from State Government departments and as per its policy decision, pending formulation of its own rules with regard to salary and other benefits viz. house rent, medical allowance, TA & DA, bonus etc., the same were fixed at par with the employees of the State Government. But surprisingly, the WAMUL management has failed to formulate its rules over a period of 33 years (1976-77 to 2009-10), depriving its employees of the financial benefits,” theunion said.

The employees who held a public meeting highlighting their grievances today, rued that even the Government employees who had joined WAMUL after resigning from their parent departments were currently getting only 50 per cent of salary, and about 70 per cent employees were drawing Rs 4,000 as take-home salary. “Ironically, the members of themanagement are always financially secure and not accountable to anyone as being nominated by the Government and belonging to a special category,” it said.

The union said that taking advantage a ‘flawed’ agreement that left none to represent WAMUL, the employees were forced to work under tremendous financial pressure and the “most astonishing part of this agreement is that in spite of recommendations made by different committees and individual officials of the Government of Assam, views of milk cooperatives and WAMUL employees on the handing over process were not taken prior to finalisation of the agreement.”

Stating that the employees of WAMUL had full confidence in the NDDB for its professional style of functioning, the union said that it always avoided any dispute with the present management since the beginning and refrained from any agitation. “The functioning of the NDDB during the past 20 months (one-third of the contractual period of five years) makes it clear that the focus has been primarily on milk marketing with the fund received from State and Central governments.

Although regular supply of milk and a few products have been resumed to establish a permanent market for milk producers, this approach does not seem to be in line with takeovers of other dairies like Mother Dairies or defunct dairies of Gujarat DairyDevelopment Corporation (GDDC) in Saurashtra,” it said, adding that the milk producers were kept in the dark as to the roadmap for sustainabledevelopment of the producers and the support structure to achieve the desired goal.

Today’s meeting involving leading citizens and media persons convened by the Pachim Asom Dugdha Utpadak Samabai Sangha Sramik KarmachariUnion (Sramik Union) urged the State Government and the present management committee to resolve the WAMUL employees’ issues at the earliest.