Working for years, they have been deprived of minimum wages, other benefits
The tannery and leather industry is in existence for more than a century here but the workers still lag behind when it comes to welfare measures.
For reasons best known to the officials, about 1,000-odd workers working in a dozen such companies are still deprived of minimum wages and coverage under Employees State Insurance (ESI), Provident Fund (PF) and other welfare measures.
Several agreements were made between managements and Tannery & Leather Workers Union with regard to nature of employment, extension of minimum wages, provident fund and ESI, but they remain on paper only.
Union founder-president Jannua Jacharaiah says that the managements had agreed to treat the employees who worked for more than 240 days, as permanent employees, provide them with PF, ESI, leaves as per statutes, bonus, etc., among several other promises made in April 2011. “We have made such agreements in the past too. The Union has written to the authorities of ESI, provident fund, labour department and district collector from time to time, but in vain,” he says.
The tanneries have been in existence in Warangal since 1830 when the Nizam ruled the area.
The leather was treated in a primitive way using herbs. In 1965, chemicals were introduced to clean the leather. Owing to several reasons, the number of tanneries has come down over the years and the old glory is lost forever.
Now, only a dozen tanneries exist in Desaipet and Enumamula areas in Warangal town employing about 100 workers each on an average.
Speaking to ‘The Hindu’, Mr. Jacharaiah says the managements argue that they are not making much profits and that they are surviving with too many restrictions, including environmental aspects. “But we feel they are making huge profits if you see the demand and supply of leather in the market.
A worker should also get his due. Only then, it is called a healthy enterprise. Unfortunately, workers who risk their health and lives are still deprived of essential welfare measures,” he points out.