Beedi workers staged demonstrations at eight places in Dakshina Kannada district under the banner of Centre for Indian Trade Union (CITU) on Tuesday demanding minimum wages.
Besides Mangalore, they held protests at Moodbidri, Gurupura-Kaikamba, B.C. Road, Vitla, Puttur, Sullia, and Belthangady.
In Mangalore, B. Madhava, Secretary, CPI (M), led the protest. Addressing the protestors, Mr. Madhava said prices of basic commodities such as rice, sugar, and vegetables had gone up and beedi workers found it difficult to eke out a living.
Trade union leaders said the Centre had decided in 2009 that the minimum wages for workers would be Rs. 100 a day. In 2010, a draft notification issued by the Karnataka Government fixed the rate of Rs. 103 for 1,000 beedis, including dearness allowance, based on the consumer price index of 3,528 points. But at the end of 2010, the consumer price index had shot up to 4,284. Since the beedi workers were to get 4 paise for every additional point, they were eligible to get additional dearness allowance of Rs. 30.24. Thus they should be getting Rs. 133.24, he said.
The Government, which had invited objections to the notification giving two months time, had not issued a final notification even to this date, they said. The beedi workers said that the government was deliberately delaying issuing of the notification.
One of the demonstrators Latha said that she was finding it difficult meet the day-to-day expenses with her income. She said she was a single parent and it was difficult for her to pay her child's school fees. Another protestor, Ms. Seema, said that it was difficult for her to meet her basic needs at a time when the prices of various commodities have gone up.
Sukumar, Dakshina Kannada District Beedi Workers Federation Secretary, and other CITU leaders such as Vasanth Achary and Sunilkumar Bajal took part in the demonstration at Mangalore.
Udupi Staff Correspondent reports:
Members of the Udupi District Beedi Workers' Federation affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) staged a dharna in front of the District Labour Office here on Tuesday.
In a memorandum submitted to the Labour Officer, federation general secretary Ramesh Mendon said the State Government had fixed the minimum wages for beedi workers five years ago.
Meanwhile, there had been a substantial increase in the prices of essential commodities. This had made life difficult for beedi workers. Hence the minimum wages should be revised, it said.