COIMBATORE/TIRUPPUR: The Union government withdrew the 11% duty on cotton imports, yet the prices have not come down. Power looms and spinning mills in western Tamil Nadu have suspended operations indefinitely, protesting the hike in cotton prices, and condemning the Union government for not intervening in the issue.
The strike has put thousands of workers in distress. R Muthusamy, secretary of Powerloom weaving unit workers’ association (Tiruppur), affiliated to the CITU, said the strike is threatening the livelihood of workers, as looms are shut due to the non-supply of warp yarn by mills. “The workers work for more than 10 hours a day but get paid only Rs 500-600.
We are worried about the future of the workers in the weaving units. Most fitters and binders get a daily wage of Rs 600-700. The strike will hit them hard. Further, experienced workers get advance money in case of emergencies and other needs. So, they cannot move out of the industry,” he added.
M Rajagopal (45) of Avinashi, who is working for the past two decades as operator in a power loom unit in Thekkalur, said, “I used to get a salary of Rs 4,200 per week. We already lost a lot of job days a few months ago as the power loom units struck work frequently seeking wage revision by manufacturers. Currently, textile companies are hit by yarn price hikes and have closed their facilities.
Since they offer contracts to power loom and auto loom units, we are stuck, due to lack of supply of warp yarn.” He added, “Since this is the end of month, labourers are feeling the pinch. If the strike continues into the next week, we will lose our savings and could be forced to get advance payment from weaving unit owners. If this is the case of experienced workers, freshers will suffer more.”
S Dinesh Kumar, a spinning mill worker in Somanur, said, “Already the pandemic dented our finances significantly. Now, because of the strike, people who came from rural regions are thinking of quitting and going back to their hometowns to continue with agricultural work.” However, a few spinning mills have been offering advance payment and some sort of maintenance work to safeguard the livelihood of their workers.
Speaking to TNIE, The South India Spinners Association (SISPA) President J Selva said, “Although mills are not functioning, owners have been giving labourers work such as maintenance and other jobs. Some are even provided with an advance amount to manage till the situation comes back to normal.”
Virudhunagar weavers begin week-long strike
Virudhunagar: Condemning the price hike of yarn, weavers associated with the Surgical Dressing Manufacturers’ Association began their one-week strike on Wednesday. Association President N Senthilraj told TNIE that about 5,000 power loom units across this district would remain shut till May 31. “About 10,000 workers will lose employment due to this strike. Apart from our workers, this strike will also affect the medical industry. The State and Central governments should regulate the price hike,” he urged.