Coir workers jobless, penniless
Chacko Varghese, 63, has been an worker of a small-scale fibre mat manufacturing unit at Aryad in Alappuzha for a few years. He used to earn round ₹400 a day till April 2021, when the restrictions imposed by the federal government to sort out the second wave of COVID-19 compelled the manufacturing unit to close operations briefly.
“The past few weeks have been a nightmare. Besides becoming jobless and penniless, some of my family members contracted COVID-19. Our lives have turned upside down. With no cash, I find it hard to buy medicines for my wife who is a heart patient. We lived all these days on the food packets delivered by the grama panchayat,” he says.
Another coir employee, Baburaj, 66, of Pazhaveedu says he has by no means skilled an ordeal of this magnitude in his total life. “COVID-19 and subsequent restrictions have prevented people like me from earning a living. The pandemic has made me indigent,” he says.
Products pile up
The pandemic has introduced the coir business, already going by way of a troublesome patch, to its knees. It has robbed the livelihood of 1000’s of coir workers who trusted modest day by day or weekly earnings.
Although the federal government has given its nod for the business to restart operations, albeit with restrictions, coir merchandise stay piled up at models because of cancellations of orders.
“We are facing a grim situation. Products worth ₹1.5 lakh are accumulated in my unit. We are allowed to restart operations, but there are hardly any orders for coir products. The government should intervene and initiate measures to procure coir products. If products continue to pile up, we will be forced to halt operations, which will push our employees further into poverty,” says Sunny C., proprietor of a small-scale fibre mat manufacturing unit at Komalapuram within the district.