With the withdrawal of the indefinite strike by Supplyco workers on Monday evening demanding equal pay and better work conditions, the district was saved from the brink of a crisis.
The proclamation of the strike had coincided with the first day of the distribution of over 1.5 free Onam kits to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in the district.
With reduced staff strength owing to the strike, the public corporation would have also found it difficult to go ahead with its plans to open special fairs for the festival, said official sources.
“We had distributed 1,50,307 BPL kits in Kozhikode alone. We expect the same number to be given out this year for a week starting September 2,” a senior Supplyco official said. However, no free kits are being distributed for migrant labourers, sources said.
With prices of essential food commodities shooting up, the Supplyco’s free kits during festival season is a relief for the poor. Every free kit contains 2 kg rice, 500 gms of sugar, 200 grams of chilli and 100 grams of tea powder.
The BPL kits have to be distributed through the 135 outlets in Kozhikode, which forms a lion’s portion of a total 312 outlets in the four districts of Kannur, Kasargod, Wayanad and Kozhikode.
Kozhikode taluk alone will see the distribution of 70,000 BPL kits, while 38,981 kits would be given out in Vadakara and 41,705 in Koyilandy.
Official sources said that the district wing would have been really stretched with 114 of a total 200 staffers on strike to deal with the festival demands. Compared to 15 staffers who joined the strike in Wayanad, 35 in Kannur and 24 in Kasaragod, Kozhikode had seen a major loss of manpower on Monday.
“We have started only one of a total 13 Onam fairs in Kozhikode district alone. There is a lot to do for the next week. We are distributing the available staff for the fairs,” a source said.
Kozhikode Metro Fair, town fairs in Kalpetta, Kannur and Kasaragod. Other fairs have been scheduled to be opened in Kunnamangalam, Thamarassery, Perambra, Balussery, Koyilandy, Cheruvannur, Vengeri, Kakkattil, Vadakara and Kallachi.
Similarly, Wayanad district will have two fairs in Mananthavady and Bathery. A fair has opened in Kannur town and another is scheduled to start soon. Kasaragod would have five Onam fairs.