KERALA

‘Prospects bleak for rubber sector’

Staff Reporter

Gurudasan blames auto industry crisis

KOLLAM: Labour Minister P.K. Gurudasan has said that prospects for the natural rubber sector in the State remain gloomy. The Minister has attributed the situation mainly to the global crisis in the auto industry.

Inaugurating a modernised crumb rubber factory of the public sector Rehabilitation Plantations Limited (RPL) at Kulathupuzha, near here, on Saturday, he said: “Most rubber-based industries are passing through a phase of recession. This has hit the natural rubber sector — as a result of which the price of natural rubber has plunged. The fall in rubber price from Rs.130 to Rs.65 a kg means a loss of Rs.4,500 crore to the rubber sector that produces 7.5 lakh tonnes a year. But that does not warrant a slash in the wages of plantation workers hiked during the latter half of last year,” Mr. Gurudasan said adding that the present rubber price of Rs.65 still gives good profit to the planter.

The Labour Minister said he was hopeful that the lockout at Apollo Tyres in Kochi would end soon. Talks called by the Labour Commissioner in Kochi on Saturday were fruitful .

He said he would be attending the next round of talks.

The Minister described the workers of the RPL as a sincere lot who continued to ensure that the company ran in profit. He recalled that the labourers of the RPL were Sri Lankan Tamils of Indian origin who had been brought to Kulathupuzha and rehabilitated under the Sirimavo-Sasthri agreement in the 1960s.

Help promised

Mr. Gurudasan said that children of these labourers born here would be provided jobs at the RPL as per a decision of the company’s board of directors.

The government would provide all help for the children of the RPL workers to pursue their studies in Tamil medium.

Under a scheme to recognise dedication to work, the RPL selected 20 workers for a special monetary reward. The rewards were given away by Mr. Gurudasan at the function.

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