The closure of Britannia's iconic unit has raised concerns of 'industry exodus' from West Bengal

The closure of Britannia's iconic unit has raised concerns of 'industry exodus' from West Bengal


Britannia Industries Limited has announced the closure of its historic factory at Taratala, Kolkata on June 24, 2024.

Britannia Industries Limited has announced the closure of its historic factory located in Taratala area of ​​Kolkata on June 24, 2024. | Photo Credit: ANI

A fresh controversy has erupted over the exodus of industry from West Bengal after FMCG major Britannia Industries Ltd informed the stock exchanges that all permanent employees at its Taratala plant in Kolkata have accepted voluntary retirement.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership described the development as “shutdown of Britannia Industries factory”, although the company stated that it would not have any material impact on Britannia Industries' business operations.

BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya said, “The Britannia factory, which was once a symbol of industrial vitality in Bengal, suffered a lot due to the rampant 'unionism' of the CPI(M) during the Left rule. The TMC's relentless 'tolabaazi' was the last nail in the coffin, which eventually led to the closure of the factory.”

Mr Malviya, the BJP co-incharge in West Bengal, said the state was already “gripping under a situation of severe unemployment, which has been aggravated by TMC's extortion and syndicates; now it is facing a more severe situation with factories being closed, leading to massive layoffs”.

In a notice given to the stock exchange on June 20, the company said that all the permanent employees of the Taratala factory have accepted the voluntary retirement scheme. According to sources, there are about 122 permanent employees.

“Production at the plant was halted for nearly two weeks as a result of which the workers accepted the terms of the VRS. Now, the management is in talks with the contract workers,” said Gautam Roy, a leader of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the labour wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

The development has evoked strong reactions as Britannia has been one of the major brands operating in the state and the factory at Taratala has been an iconic landmark in Kolkata.

Questions are also being raised about the fate of the Taratala factory land, located on 11 acres of Kolkata Port land. Mr Roy said the land was renewed in 2018 on a lease agreement for 30 years, which was extended till 2048.

Political analyst Kanchan Gupta said on social media that it was strange to know that Britannia had switched off its machines and lights at its huge factory in Kolkata.

“I think this was inevitable. In its mandatory filing to the NSE, Britannia has stated that the employees have accepted the 'Voluntary Retirement Scheme' and the closure of the factory “will not have any material impact on the business operations of the company”. This means Britannia will retain its income except for its operations in Calcutta,” he posted on X.

Local Trinamul councillor Anwar Khan said Britannia's decision to shut down its unit was a business decision and had nothing to do with the state's industrial climate. “The company has already set up a unit in Dankuni,” he said.


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