|Fewer fireworks units resume work|
Fewer fireworks units resume work in Sivakasi after lockdown
Even though the Virudhunagar district administration has permitted fireworks units to resume functioning with restrictions, only some of the 1,070 cracker units opened on Monday after 35 days of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The units have been asked to function with only 33% of the workforce, to maintain physical distancing and to follow COVID-19 protocols, said Sivakasi Tahsildar, S. Rajkumar.
Workers were scanned with thermal scanners and given hand sanitisers before being allowed into the units. A worker, V. Nagendran, said that the happiness was visible among the workers over reopening of the factories as most of the workers had faced lot of suffering due to lack of work. “With three children, job losses for me and my wife had pushed us into debt,” he said. At least during the first wave of pandemic, the State government and the manufacturers gave us some assistance. But, this time with no relief, except for ₹2,000 [of a total ₹4,000] given through ration shops, the workers could not make ends meet, he said.
“Even if we had ration rice, for other food grains, we had to borrow money,” he said.
The workers and manufacturers had appealed to the district administration seeking permission to reopen the units to benefit the workers.
‘Workforce restrictions make it difficult’
“The workforce restriction has forced many of us to re-think starting factory operations,” said general secretary of The Indian Fireworks Manufacturers’ Associaiton, T. Kannan.
Stating that the workers were trained to specific process of manufacturing of crackers, Mr. Kannan said with the restrictions on workforce numbers, the process of making fireworks will suffer. “Only those who make one or two varieties of crackers can open and run successfully,” he said.
Another leading manufacturer said that bringing workers from far-off place without permission to operate buses was practically impossible.
Stating that with no orders for fireworks from across the country due to pandemic, he said that lockdown was only an excuse for many of the manufacturers to keep the units closed.
“Most of us do not have the working capital to start the works with uncertainty prevailing in the market. Neither have we received any orders or advance payment from dealers,” he said. Even those who have deeper pockets can make crackers, only if they have hope to market them, he said.
Fireworks units give direct and indirect employment to 8 lakh workers.
Source: The Hindu