Demand wage increase following expiry of 3-year agreement

A total of 138 powerloom weavers were arrested at Sankarapandiapuram near Rajapalayam on Wednesday, when they were proceeding towards the graveyard to “settle there” pressing for their demands.

Powerloom weavers of Sathirapatti, Samusigapuram, Sankarapandiapuram, Vagaikulampatti, Iyanapuram, Rajapalayam and nearby villages are engaged in manufacturing surgical gauze and surgical bandage cloth. They have been on strike since May 4 seeking wage hike following the expiry of a three-year wage agreement.

Their other demands include 8.33 per cent bonus, night shift allowance of Rs.20, nine holidays a year, coverage under Provident Fund (PF) and Employees State Insurance (ESI) Schemes and maternity leave for a month.

Eight rounds of talks held in this connection failed to yield any result. Their bid to prepare gruel and distribute the same to jobless workers and their dependants on Monday was aborted by the police. So they took out a silent rally.

On Wednesday, they decided to stage a sit-in at the office of the Surgical Cloth Manufacturers Association. The police denied them permission. Then the weavers announced that they would settle at the graveyard and started proceeding towards it when the police arrested them. Somasundaram of the CPI(M), Muthumari of the CPI, Azhaguraja and Kalasalingam of the MDMK, Ponnusamy and Palaniselvam of the DMDK, Shaik Abdullah and Selvaraj of the Congress and Jeyaraj of the Forward Block led the agitation.

The arrested persons were released later. Meanwhile, talks have been arranged in the presence of Labour Department officials here on Thursday.