News Karnataka
Wednesday, April 24 2024

Mammoth congregation of beedi workers raises voice against anti tobacco policies

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Mangaluru: Representatives of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Centre of Indian Trade Unions(CITU), Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) and Beedi Contractors Union, on Tuesday, February 9 demanded the immediate intervention of Union minister for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya to resolve factors threatening livelihoods of over 1.3 crore (13 million) beedi workers in the country.

The organisations, pointing at the unfriendly and unproven anti-tobacco policies of the Government to be responsible for the plight of the beedi workers, demanded alternate employment to the beedi workers, employment opportunities to beedi workers and rollers before any anti tobacco policy is adopted, industry representatives should be consulted and tripartite meetings be held before passing any rules against the industry, withdrawal of proposed COTPA guidelines including the notification seeking 85% of the beedi label to contain a warning and penalize false propaganda and misinformation by health activists against the indigenous beedi and tobacco industry.

The Association of Unions also announced “DelhiChalo” – a march to Delhi starting with mass protests and stirs if demands of the industry are not met.

CITU President Balakrishna Shetty said that there are 30 lakh farmers engaged in cultivation of beedi tobacco, 20 lakh Adivasis engaged in tendu leaf plucking and 80 lakh beedi workers rolling beedis from their homes. None of these 1.3 crore workers have any alternative means of sustaining their families without beedi industry.
They are already facing threat because of anti-tobacco policies. It is important to protect their livelihoods through a well thought policy framework, rather than adoption of unproven policies.

AITUC leader Sitharam Berinja endorsing the views of Shetty said that uproven anti-tobacco policies have already created a thriving parallel tobacco smuggling industry in India.

“Now, rules like COTPA Amendment and 85% Graphic Health Warnings are taking toll on the beedi industry. The revision from existing 40% to 85% is impossible due to the conical shape of beedi packaging. We will have to eventually shut down the industry from April1st if the 85% warning is introduced.These will lead to large scale unemployment and lead to social unrest,” he said adding that the children of beedi workers will not be sent to school as the
source of their fees will be terminated.

Hind Mazdoor Sabha leader Mohommed Rafi said that policies in India, pertaining to tobacco is framed in secrecy, with only health activists who indulge in false propaganda being consulted.

“Even pharma industry is consulted at present in policy shaping, then why single out the tobacco sector. We demand 1.3 crore citizens involved in beedi industry should have a voice, and should be part of tripartite consultations before any policies against the industry are passed,” he said.

K Abdul Khadhar from Union of Beedi Contractors pointed out that beedis are exclusive to India, while tobacco control policies are conceived in the western countries and are recommended by foreign influenced health NGO’s.

A mammoth rally comprising of 25,000 beedi rollers and workers was held today in Mangaluru, culminating with the submission of a petition addressed to the attention of Bandaru Dattatreya.

Mammoth congregation of beedi workers raises voice against anti tobacco policies
Mammoth congregation of beedi workers raises voice against anti tobacco policies
Mammoth congregation of beedi workers raises voice against anti tobacco policies

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