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Striking jute workers seek raises, takeover by India

More than 200,000 workers in Indian jute mills started an indefinite strike Monday to press for higher wages and the nationalization of all private jute mills, trade union officials said. The 62 strike-hit mills, mainly in West Bengal, produce 1.4 million tons of jute products a year. About a quarter of it is exported, mainly to the US, the Soviet Union, and the European Community.

Industry sources said jute goods from India - the world's largest producer of raw jute - are being priced out of markets by Bangladesh and China, as well as by cheaper synthetics, and the strike will further weaken India's position. Jute is a fiber used to make sacks and twine.

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