Coffee growers get threat mail

Staff Correspondent

‘Do not ignore the interests of workers’

Madikeri: Certain coffee growers and organisations in Kodagu recently received an anonymous letter asking them not to “ignore the interests” of workers in the plantations or “face consequences”. This has become a cause for concern.

The letter stated that all workers in Kodagu working under landholders and coffee planters, would become “free of all debts” from November 1, 2008. The owners had flourished at the cost of the workers. If the price of Robusta coffee exceeded Rs. 1,500 a bag of 50 kg and that of Arabica coffee exceeded Rs. 2,000 a bag, the planters should pay an extra sum of Rs. 5 per every Rs. 100 to the workers along with the daily minimum wage from November 1, 2008 till October 31 next year.

The letter also “prescribed” the minimum wage for workers based on the acreage of plantations. For instance, those having up to three-and-a-half acres should pay a minimum wage of Rs. 100 and those having over 150 acres should pay Rs. 180 a day. The minimum wage should be increased by Rs. 5 every year.

Copies of the letter were sent to the Codagu Planters’ Association here, Kodagu Coffee Growers’ Cooperative Society, Kodava Samaja units, Planters’ Club in Sakleshpur and certain individual planters. However, none have come out with any complaint to the police in Kodagu in this regard. A person who had received such a letter told The Hindu that a particular community in Kodagu had been targeted. There were rumours that naxals had their presence in Kodagu and the dense jungles could help them establish a stronghold.

“We are at it” was the reply of Superintendent of Police T.R. Suresh when asked whether the police were aware of the matter. “We are yet to identify from where the letters came,” he added.

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