Thousands of cashew workers in Kerala have not received their wages for the past two weeks, as their employers are unable to withdraw money due to the demonetisation programme.
Speaking to BusinessLine on Wednesday, P Sundaran, Chairman, Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI), said the council had urged the Centre and the RBI to relax the withdrawal limits for the cashew industry.
The industry employs around 10 lakh workers every day for various factory and farm activities; of these, nearly 95 per cent are women from rural and economically backward sectors, he pointed out.
The workers , he said, “are historically paid their weekly wages in cash, as the majority do not have bank accounts. Besides, making cheque payments to thousands of workers is practically impossible.”
The estimated average cash requirement per factory per week for wages comes to around ₹3 lakh. The managements are unable to make the payments because of the limit fixed for cash withdrawals, he said.
The non-receipt of wages has very badly affected the daily lives of the workers. It has also impacted the functioning of the processing units, which are already facing several other serious issues, said Sundaran.
Each entrepreneur/organisation operates more than one factory. Based on their previous withdrawals and disbursement of weekly wages, they should be allowed to withdraw at least ₹3 lakh a week, said S Kannan, Executive Director and Secretary of CEPCI.
Given the alarming situation, the CEPCI Chairman has urged the Centre and the RBI for their immediate intervention to relax the restriction on cash withdrawal for the cashew industry.GK NAIR