Staff Reporter

Manufacturers not contributing to workers’ welfare fund

Minister says argument that principal employers are in Karnataka is not valid

‘Manufacturers not keeping Kerala’s or Karnataka’s laws’

KASARAGOD: The State government is considering action against beedi manufactures who refuse to pay their contribution to the beedi workers’ welfare fund, Labour Minister P.K. Gurudasan has said.

The Minister was speaking to reporters after a meeting of office-bearers of the Beedi Workers Welfare Fund Board, manufactures of beedi in the private sector and representatives of trade unions, at Kanhangad in the district.

Around 40,000 employees work under registered beedi manufactures in Kasaragod.

Mr. Gurudasan said the government would decide on a course of action after it received the opinion of trade unions in the beedi sector. Mr. Gurudasan said private sector beedi manufactures in the State, who were operating mainly in Kasaragod district, were found not obeying the labour laws existing in the country. The manufactures were not paying minimum wages stipulated by the State government on the pretext that they were paying minimum wages existing in Karnataka. But actually they were not paying even that.

Moreover, employers were not paying their contribution towards ESI and workers welfare fund. Mr. Gurudasan said the argument of beedi manufactures in Kasaragod that they were only middlemen or contractors who manufactured beedi for the principal employers based in Karnataka would not hold ground as they were also bound by the same laws applicable to the principal employer.

United stand

The trade union leaders who participated in the meeting said they were united in their stand that employers should pay their contribution to the workers’ welfare fund and ESI and should pay minimum wages. Union leaders pointed out that the manufactures here who called themselves contract manufactures had registrations in their name and paid central excise duties and other taxes in the name of their company. In the context, they were bound to provide various benefits to workers, noted the trade union leaders. Leaders of CITU, AITUC, INTUC, BMS and STU participated in the conference and were united in their stand.

Satish Pai who represented manufacturers in the meeting reiterated his stand that the manufacturers in the State were only contractors who supplied beedies to the brand owner in Karnataka. Mr. Pai said other States had not implemented workers’ welfare fund. According to Mr. Pai his company was the only company registered in the State and paying taxes duly. Several other manufactures were working in Kasaragod without registering and without the knowledge of the government. They would not come to conferences and authorities could not bring them under the ambit of law.