Mangaluru, March 17: Under the banner of CITU and AITUC, beedi (Local Cigar) workers in large numbers from Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Kasargod districts on Tuesday March 17th, protested in the city against the union government over the proposed Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Amendment) Bill 2015.
The protesters went on a rally in the city from Town Hall to DC’s office where a protest meet was held. They urged to withdraw the proposed Bill as it would put the beedi workers and beedi industry in trouble.
Addressing the gathering, Prasanna Kumar, state chief secretary of CITU said, this Act will hamper the industry and create unemployment, hence before bringing about any Act, let the government study the issue thoroughly. The government is initiating this step without studying the guidelines of WHO and FCC.
He said, there are 10 lakh beedi workers spread all over the three coastal districts and the government has to make alternative arrangements for beedi workers to make them economically stable, provide health facilities; later it can do as it wishes, said Prasanna.
He queried that what does the government do with the excise duty collected from beedi industry? Though Rs 6,000 crore was supposed to be given as pension to beedi workers, it has not been done. This is our money and our right.
Seetharam Berinje, chief secretary of AITUC, said, during elections the candidates seek votes from beedi workers but when beedi workers face problems, they fail to respond. We urge the government to withdraw the Bill as it would affect the beedi industry which provides livelihood to many.
Through the Deputy Commissioner A B Ibrahim, the protesters submitted a memorandum to the union government.