VELLORE: Nearly 200 powerloom weavers from Sholinghur, Rendadi and Kodaikal and other neighbouring villages laid siege to the Collectorate here on Monday, to draw the officials’ attention to their plight and provide them better salaries.
“We decided to gherao the Collectorate today (Monday) after the officials failed to consider our problems,” said a weaver, who sat in front of the Collectorate and raised slogans, pressing for their demands.
The weavers said they had submitted a petition during the Public Grievances day last week. “We stated our problems in our petition and briefed the officials. But no action has come of it so far,” said V Mathi of Rendadi. There are nearly 2,000 powerloom weavers in and around Sholinghur town, Gururajapalayam, Rendadi, Kodaikal and Ponnai villages. Nearly 5,000 have been getting employment indirectly through powerloom-weaving in the areas.
“We have been weaving lungis for decades. Since the last three years, we have been leading a nightmarish life as the agents were exploiting us and reducing our wages,” said another weaver. The weavers had been paid Rs 9,200 for weaving 600 metres of materials in 2013. The agencies reduced the wage to Rs 7,400. “Now, they are again planning to reduce the wage by Rs 600. We are already underpaid and forced to starve,” said a weaver. He added that it took 37 days to weave 600 metres of materials.
The weavers have been protesting for the last one week, pleading officials to save them from crisis and help them get a decent wage. “Neither the officials nor the agents has paid heed to us. Also, we demanded tripartite talks comprising agencies, powerloom owners and government officials to achieve our long- pending wage of Rs 11,000 for 600 metres,” said another weaver.
The revenue and police officials held talks with the protesting weavers and directed them to meet the officials of Labour Department to settle the issue. “If our demands are not fulfilled, we will continue our strike,” said Raghu from Sholinghur.
The protest, which lasted for nearly 30 minutes, was organised by Sholinghur Variyar Powerloom Weavers Welfare Association.