Kerala mill workers protest as textile mills remain shut

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23 textile mills that are under the National Textile Corporation have not resumed its operation. However, with the easing of restrictions with regard to lockdown, some factories have started their operation again. It should be mentioned that the National Textile Corporation is an entity which falls under the Union Textile Ministry. 

On March 24, a day after the lockdown was announced in the nation, the 23 mills which employs around 15,000 workers from various states, stopped its operations temporarily.

An NTC southern regional officer while speaking to Indian Express, mentioned that there has not been any direction given to the corporation by the Textile Industry for re-opening of the mill that produces yarn. He further mentioned that the demand for yarn hasn’t picked up till now. P Nandakumar who is the Kerala State Mill Workers Federation general secretary and also state CITU treasurer, however mentioned that there isn’t any rationale to say that the market is inactive. He further stated that mills under Kerala State Textile Corporation and also those under the cooperative sector have already started working in May and have also found a market for yarn. In fact, with demand for textile products increasing in the health sector increasing due to the ongoing pandemic, the private textile market is doing well.

Nearly 3,000 workers from five Kerala Mills have started protesting and demands re-opening of the mills. The joint action council supporting the agitation comprising the Indian National Trade Union Congress which is affiliated to the Congress, the Centre of Indian Trade Union of CPI (M), and also the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh trade union affiliated to the RSS, gave support to the protest.

Adding to what he had said, Nandakumar, mentioned that they fear that after creating a crisis by not reopening the mills, the Union government might privatise those mills.

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