Tannery workers plan Feb 9 protest against production ban



Kanpur: Over 55,000 labourers, rendered jobless after ban on production at tanneries during the two-month-long Maha Kumbh Mela, will hold a public meeting here on February 9 against the government order.

The order suspending production has affected almost 400 tanneries and labourers engaged at those units, Chairman of Tannery and Leather Workers Association Netram said.

"Work has stopped (at the tanneries) following the order from the government... The workers are now on the verge of starvation as they have not been paid wages for 20 days," he said.

Several labour unions are likely to participate in the meeting which would see them draw up a strategy to press their demands, Netram added.

Chairman of the Employees' Association of northern India Imran Siddiqui said not only tannery workers but even those involved in ancillary services too have been hit by the ban on production.

In the first phase of enforced closure, the tanneries have had to stop production between January 10 and February 11.

In its second and third phases, the ban would be enforced from February 22 to 24 and then between March 6 and 9.

Upon a plea from the tannery workers, the labour department had asked owners to provide compensation for the period during which their units would be closed. However, they said that they could only pay salaries if they were allowed to commence production.

The tanneries in and around Kanpur produce around 25 per cent of the country's leather exports. According to industry sources, the city was losing lucrative contracts to centres like Chennai and Agra due to the ban.

Preliminary estimates suggest that the loss from the stoppage in production at these units could amount to as much as Rs 1,000 crore.

PTI