November 19, 2016
In the wake of the cash withdrawal restrictions from banks after the demonetisation announcement of November 8, the public sector Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation (KSCDC) could perhaps be the only organisation in the State that has been able to pay the wages to its workers by withdrawing cash from its bank through a special sanction from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
The KSCDC has over 12,000 workers. While they got the entire wages for two weeks on Friday, workers of the private sector were not so lucky. Payment of wages to cashew workers is usually made every Friday. Wages to the workers of the cashew sector could not be paid on November 11. But cashew workers, a majority of them women, who heavily depended on the wages for their daily needs, adjusted to the situation and continued to report for work even as uncertainty on wage payment loomed large.
But KSCDC chairman S. Jayamohan wrote a detailed letter on November 10 to the RBI Regional Director in Thiruvananthapuram requesting special sanction to release cash through the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) where the KSCDC has the account.
Rs.50 lakh released
Mr. Jayamohan also followed up the request on a daily basis. Finally, the RBI regional office, after obtaining due sanction, directed the Kollam branch of the IDBI to release Rs.50 lakh to the KSCDC for paying wages to the workers.
Mr. Jayamohan said the workers were paid their wages in the new Rs.2,000-denomination notes. Since change was not available, many of the workers were jointly paid the wages in the Rs.2,000-denomination notes and asked to share it accordingly.
But the private sector cashew workers had to go without wages this week too. The owner of a private factory said the situation was leading to yet another problem in the already crisis-gripped industry. He said that attendance of workers had started falling this week because no assurance could be given on payment of wages this Friday too. The cashew industry in Kollam needs about Rs.3.5 crore each week to be paid as wages.