Beedi Workers do Multiple Jobs to Meet Ends

Business City Top Story

High demand but fewer wage forces workers to look for other jobs 

Bengaluru, Nov.20, 2018.

Uneducated people often take up daily labor jobs which fetch them money on a daily basis. Most of them hardly meet their needs due to low pay. The beedi workers in the city are facing the same situation.

As per Karnataka Minimum Wage law, a laborer is supposed to earn an amount of Rs. 385 along with variable dearness allowance (VDA) of Rs. 26.26 amounting for a total of Rs. 411.26. Per day.

The beedi laborers earn only Rs. 160 a day only after making a total of 1000 beedis in a day. Most of the laborers are women who spend hours to meet the daily demand in order to earn meager amount.

In an interview with the softcopy newspaper, one of the workers said “The amount is less and the demand is high. The cost of beedi production is less since it does not require any machinery. It needs only tobacco, leaves and string. So, the contractor provides us with the materials and we make it. But, we earn money only if we fulfill the demand. If we do not, an amount from Rs. 160 is deducted. Hence, we are trying to get away from this profession. ”

The president of the State Beedi Workers Association, Afroz Pasha commented on the issue saying “There has not

[/media-credit] Female workers rolling Beedi

been much change in the scenario as it is hard for them to find another job without any skills. But, we have managed to create a different kind of skill set programme in the colony that has trained a few women who now work in other sectors.

Previously, the family and its’ upcoming generation used to follow the same profession due to lack of education. But, now the children of these workers go to school and many of them have been able to get good jobs. We hope that the next generation from this colony will no more become a part of the beedi production company.”

Nizam, a human right activist shared his opinion on the issue saying ‘ See, the situation is a bit tricky. It is true they earn much less but they do this work from home while maintaining the household so they are earning and taking care of their homes at the same time. But, the government is trying to ban beedi permanently which would be a good thing. The question that remains is, will they get a new job? We will have to look into that.”