|With 8 Lakh Jobs In Jeopardy, Sivakasi Firework Units Call Off Strike After TN Government Assurance|
As the livelihoods of more than eight lakh people hang in balance, representatives of the fireworks industry in Sivakasi decided to withdraw the indefinite strike called to protest a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court (SC) seeking a country wide ban on firecrackers.
The representatives had met Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Friday (January 19) to discuss the issue which threatens lakhs of workers in the state.
The decision to call off the strike, that had been going on for 25 days, was taken after Tamil Nadu Minister for Dairy Development, KT Rajenthra Bhalaji met with the representatives assuring them state government’s support on the issue.
The firecracker industry in Sivakasi, which produces about 85 per cent of the country’s firecrackers, has been under severe pressure following the 1 November 2017 ban on fireworks in Delhi-NCR region by the SC.
The 840 odd firecracker units in Sivakasi employ more than 8 lakh people from across the country, and it survives on advance payments from dealers that make up close to 75 per cent of the working capital needs of the industry.
According to Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA) secretary K Mariappan, dealers, fearing an “adverse” ruling by the top court, have not sent advance this year. Many of these dealers, based in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, had gone bankrupt due to the pre-Diwali ban on cracker sale, Mariappan told.
“We are tired and cannot fight the battle on our own,” he said, adding “now we are mobilising all the interconnected industries’ representatives to join hands.”
The workers are set to resume work from today ( 22 January) as their fates depend on a favourable ruling from the court.
Although the association was initially expecting a favourable decision from the Supreme Court, it became apprehensive after the top court sought the opinion from the Centre and state governments for a ban on the sale of firecrackers across India.
Although the ban on firecrackers could not lead to any credible gains on the air pollution front, the past ruling by the apex court has already led to uncertainty over the jobs of lakhs of families who depend on the industry for their livelihoods.