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Cashew workers stage dharna

Staff Reporter

Allege move to close down KSCDC

KOLLAM: Under the banner of the pro-CITU Kerala Cashew Workers Centre (KCWC), hundreds of cashew workers held a dharna in front of the District Collectorate on Tuesday to register their protest against the alleged move on the part of the UDF Government to wind up the public sector-Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation (KSCDC).

The demonstrators pointed out that though the KSCDC factories are being kept open, the cashew workers are not being given even three days work a week.

No fresh appointments

They alleged that this was a ruse to wind up the KSCDC and entrust the factories to the private sector. No fresh appointments are being made for the past three years and this has resulted in the figure of KSCDC cashew workers coming down from 34,000 to less than 15,000 at present.

The majority of the existing KSCDC workers are those who will retire in the next four to five years and if fresh appointments were not made, the factories will be unable to function and lead to a situation in which the KSCDC will have to be wound up, the demonstrators alleged.

Inaugurating the dharna, the CITU general secretary, P.K. Gurudasan, said that while the KSCDC was launched with the aim of acting as a model employer in the cashew sector to prevent exploitation of the workers by the private sector, today the KSCDC has become a model for the private sector to exploit the workers.

He pointed out that the private sector and the KSCDC were joining hands to spread the canard that the cashew sector was in a crisis.

`No crisis'

There is no such crisis in the sector. On the other hand things appear bright for the industry since the demand for kernels both in the export and domestic markets had boomed.

Another indication is that in spite of the crisis claim, the private sector had opened 50 new factories in the State in the recent past.

He said that a good number of processors from Tamil Nadu are denying the workers their rights and benefits running into crores of rupees by making them work under the commission processing system.

The CPI(M) district secretary, K. Rajagopal, the Kollam MP, P. Rajendran, the all India vice-president of the CITU, J. Mercykutty and the general secretary of the KCWC, E. Kassim, addressed the gathering.

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