Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) State secretary and UTUC-affiliated All Kerala Cashewnut Factory Workers Federation working president A.A. Azeez has said that the reopening of the public-sector cashew factories alone has not put an end to the crisis gripping the cashew sector of the State. At a press conference here on Monday, Mr. Azeez said that the public-sector factories comprised only a small portion of the cashew sector. The big majority of the cashew workers were attached to the private sector. While the public-sector factories employed only about 16,000 workers, over 1.5 lakh private sector cashew workers were now unemployed as more than 300 private factories were remaining closed.
He alleged that the government was not making any serious efforts to intervene and solve the crisis. “The LDF government appears to be completely ignoring the issue.” There were about 860 registered cashew factories in the State and most of these factories had remained closed before Onam. After Onam, some of the factories reopened but denied bonus to the workers.
Mr. Azeez said that when it came to intervening on the issue, Minister for Cashew Industry J. Mercykutty Amma had limitations. Cabinet decisions might be required.
“Therefore Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should directly intervene in the issue.”
He alleged that in many of the private factories that have reopened, the minimum wages stipulated by the government was being denied to the workers. Workers were forced to accept what was being given because there was no other go. He wanted the Chief Minister to convene a meeting of all concerned in the cashew sector.
The federation would organise a collectorate march and dharna by cashew workers on October 31 raising the issues. The demands included steps to reopen private-sector cashew factories, steps to ensure bonus to the workers of factories lying closed, measures to ensure that the workers of the reopened factories got the minimum wages and clearing the gratuity dues of the public sector cashew workers.
‘1.5 lakh private-sector cashew workers unemployed’
Factories deny bonus, minimum wages to workers