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7 Dec 2016

Three lakh bidi makers jobless in Berhampore

HT, 7 Dec 2016, BERHAMPORE: Three lakh bidi binders of Murshidabad have lost their jobs after demonetisation. Most bidi factory owners of Jangipur sub-division have closed their factories.
Around nine lakh people of this district are directly and indirectly associated with the bidi-binding profession. Of them, seven lakh live in Jangipur. There are at least 30 small and big bidi-making factories in Jangipur. After demonetisation, only three factories are running. Other factory owners have closed their units as they cannot pay the bidi makers.
A bidi factory owner said. “More than three lakh people used to make bidis for Shib bidi, Pataka bidi, Das bidi, Nur bidi and other factories. But in the last 10 days, all the factories have stopped production. As a result, bidi makers aren’t getting a single penny.”
Alamgir Sheikh, a bidi labourer from Aurangabad who lost his job, said, “Four members of my family used to make bidis but all of us are now jobless. We have already withdrawn our savings from the bank.”
The secretary of the bidi factory owners’ association, Rajkumar Jain, however, said, “We haven’t asked the bidi binders to stop work. We are facing problems to pay their weekly wages for shortage of cash. We are ready to pay them as soon the situation normalises. But some bidi binders aren’t ready to work in this condition.”
CITU district secretary Abul Hasnath Khan said, “The state labour commissioner has written a letter to the bidi factory owners on December 1 and has said that it is illegal to shut down the units. The factory owners are liable to pay compensation to the bidi binders.”
A bidi maker gets just Rs 126 for making 1,000 bidis. “We have come to know that a few factory owners have agreed to keep the production on if the bidi makers reduce their wage. Actually some of the factory owners are trying to make profits after demonetisation. The factory owners have also hoarded bidis in their godowns.”

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