CITU says Tamil extremists helped Munnar stir, CPI-M denies

Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 14 (IANS) CITU, the trade union affiliated to the CPI-M, was on Monday embroiled in a row when a leader said women plantation workers’ agitation in Munnar had the support of some Tamil extremists. The CPI-M later said people holding certain positions should not make irresponsible statements.

A nine-day protest by more than 7,000 women plantation workers demanding better conditions, both in terms of bonus and facilities, ended on Sunday night after the Kannan Devan Hills Plantations (KDHP) Company Private Limited, based in the hill station of Munnar in Idukki district, accepted their demand for bonus.

The striking women did not allow any of the trade unions to lead their strike.

On Monday, K.P. Sahadevan, state secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) affiliated to the CPI-M, told reporters in Kannur that the protest had the backing of Tamil extremist groups.

“Tamil extremist groups managed to sneak into the strike that was called by the plantation workers in Munnar and they were the organisers,” said Sahadevan.

Soon after his statement, CPI-M state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said responsible people holding positions should not make irresponsible statements.

“There has been no support from any Tamil extremist groups to the protest at all. In the wake of the protest by the workers, it’s time the trade unions do an introspection,” he said.

Sahadevan later apologised for his remarks, and said he has withdrawn the comments.

The deadlock was broken on Sunday night after a day-long consultation in Kochi led by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, and attended by his cabinet colleagues, trade union leaders and representatives of the workers and the KDHP officials.

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