Employees of the National Textile Corporation (NTC) mills in the State, owing allegiance to different unions, have opposed a move to calculate the value of the land assets owned by the mills. The Central government had hired a private consultancy to measure the land.
On Wednesday, union members of the CITU, INTUC and BMS at the Vijayamohini mills in Thiruvananthapuram prevented officials of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a real estate consultancy, who had come for the land valuation process. The unions are seeing this as yet another step towards shutting down or privatisation of the mills.
The 23 spinning mills of the NTC (five in Kerala), under the Union Textile Ministry, have remained closed since March, despite the Centre granting permission for factories and industries to open in May. The unions have been on an indefinite strike here for the past 21 days. The large pile of unsold yarn stock is being pointed out as a reason for the mills remaining closed.
"The consultancy conducted land valuation in two mills the Alagappa mill in Thrissur and the Kannur mill. The Centre has taken no step to reopen the mills. Now, that the issue of reopening is set to be discussed in Parliament next week, they have ordered one mill in south India a mill in Tamil Nadu to function, to create an impression that mills are not fully shut down. But the government is offering no other help. They have asked them to use the raw materials from the other mills that are remaining closed, which also looks like an attempt to make these mills irrelevant. The Parvathy mill in Kollam was closed down in this manner," said T.S. Vijayakumar, general secretary, National Textiles Corporation Mills United Staff Federation.
According to a mill official, the land asset valuation is a normal step. Orders for the same were issued before the COVID-19 struck, but got delayed because the consultancy officials could not travel. But the official was not clear on why this land valuation was being done.
The unions said that the NTC had a strong financial capability, as a large amount of money was pending realisable from various agencies. But no concrete efforts had been taken by the management to get these amount. As per the audit report for the year 2019-20, the NTC can recover a total amount of 2,233 crore, pending over the sale of land or mills to various agencies or State governments.