Maleeha Raghaviah

New legislation posing obstacles to clay-mining

Concern over depleting clay stocks

Unions demand hike in wages

KOZHIKODE: Tile units in the State are in the grip of a crisis yet again; this time with depleting clay stocks and a section of workers threatening to strike work if wages are not hiked.

President of the Calicut Tile Manufacturers Association M.A. Abdurehman said procuring clay was the biggest problem faced by the industry. “Every year the manufacturers are confronted with the problem of procuring adequate clay stocks before the onset of the monsoon. The new legislation in the State on clay-mining poses fresh problems for manufacturers,” he said.

Even though tile unit owners are ready to refill the land from where clay is mined, technicalities pose a number of difficulties to the process.

“Tile manufacturers met Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan Industries Minister Elamaram Karim and other ministers in Thiruvananthapuram recently to apprise them of the crisis in the industry because of raw material shortage. They have assured assistance on the matter so that a traditional industry producing environment-friendly building material is not allowed to die out,” Mr. Abdurehman said.

Clay stocks are depleting in many factories and unless stocks are replenished the manufacturing process will have to be stopped in December. This year, the delay in completing a joint survey by different departments on areas from where clay can be mined and the summer rain posed hurdles in obtaining the raw material.

Mr. Abdurehman said there was high demand for clay products and it was likely to increase in the coming years considering the ongoing construction activities and preference for environment-friendly materials.

Meanwhile, a section of workers in the tile units in the Feroke-Cheruvannur industrial belt have raised a set of demands, threatening to strike work if they are not met.

Unions including the INTUC, CITU, AITUC, and BMS have given a call for a strike from November 1 if the managements do not implement an increment based on grade of workers and renew dearness allowance, among other things.

The Joint Council of trade unions said no increment in wages had been implemented since 1995 and only dearness allowance had been paid. The unions pointed to the conducive atmosphere prevailing in the tile sector and said that legitimate remuneration must be paid to workers.

Conciliatory proceedures are on with the Labour authorities to settle the demands, sources said.