Manual Labourers Earn More: Khadi Workers

Published: 06th July 2015 06:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th July 2015 06:33 AM   |  A+A-

Manual Labourers


The relatively lower standards in labour conditions outside the state is taking its toll on a group of women working under the Khadi Village Industries in Kerala.

Even as migrant labourers in the state get one of the best pays for manual jobs, the women working under the Khadi Board in Neriyamangalam only stand to earn, if they slog for eight hours a day, a maximum of Rs 217. Worse, they get the amount in three instalments.

According to the District Khadi and Village Industries Office in Ernakulam, there is no provision for increase in their payment structure because the mission, which is rolled out in collaboration with the Union Government follows the same pattern existing in other states.

“There has been no demands for better pay from other states. So the Centre is of the opinion that it cannot change the payment structure for the sake of workers in just one state,” said Ernakulam project officer Chandini.

Nevertheless, the women working at the Neriyamangalam Khadi unit, along with staff of other units in Kerala organise regular protests, demanding better pay. But they have been of little use so far.

“Our pay is based on how much cotton we spin into thread at the end of the day. We get Rs 5.60 for every roll(kazha) of thread. If we make 20 rolls a day, we get a DA of Rs 117.67. That means, we can make a maximum of up to Rs 217.67 a day,” said Jessy Saju, a hand-weaver at the Neriyamangalam Khadi Unit.

The workers across Kerala get paid at the end of every month. An officer from the Ernakulam project office in Kaloor counts the rolls and earmarks their pay.

“But we don’t get the full amount every month. Our payment is split into two. One half is released every month and rest usually comes three or four months later,” Jessy said.

That means, they get between Rs 1,000 and Rs  1,500 every month. “How far along can you go with that amount?”asks Sulekha Aliyar, a house wife, who has been working at the spinning unit since 2006 when it started.

“Our job is not that simple. We have to spin the wheels close to eight hours to produce 20 rolls of thread. If we are unable to make 20 rolls, we won’t get our DA. Within the eight hour, if the machine breaks down, which it usually does, we have to repair it ourselves and start the process all over again. That is again loss of time. So, ordinarily, we produce around 15 to 18 rolls a day,” said Aisha P P, another worker.   

Including Sulekha, Aisha and Jessy, there are 13 women working at the unit. Their main demand is for the government to install motors in the weaving machine, so they can increase their output and reduce their physical effort. Though the state supports this demand, stumbling block is the Centre's stance that Khadi should be a hand-made product.


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