Mangaluru: August 8, 2015: The state government has decided to set up a state-level committee to understand the problems, lifestyle, and working conditions of nearly eight lakh beedi workers across Karnataka.
About half these beedi workers are in Dakshina Kannada district.
The recent policies of both the state and central governments is pushing these workers on the brink of unemployment for they are not socially adapted to pick up any other vocation straightaway, MLC Ivan D’Souza said. The MLC said that the proposed committee should be broad-based and should include representatives of trade unions working for the welfare of beedi workers.
It should also look into how work has impacted the lives of workers, most of whom are women. The government must take steps to protect their lives, D’Souza said, adding that many workers suffer from tuberculosis and do not have adequate medical help at hand.
The committee will submit a report to both the state and central governments for the implementation, D’Souza said, adding that the need of the hour is for the beedi workers in the district to get suitable residential colonies, a facility that Mysuru with far fewer beedi workers has already got, thanks to then labour minister late Azeez Sait.
"I have asked the DC to identify at least 100 acres of land in the district so that a similar colony with 5,000 houses can be set up in Dakshina Kannada," he noted.
Beedi workers also need a 50-bed super-specialty hospital for their treatment. At present, they have to rely on such a facility in Mysuru, MLC D’Souza said.
"In addition, I have also demanded that the government double the scholarship amount it pays for the children of beedi workers and ensure that the workers get a monthly pension of Rs 2,000," he said. This support is necessary given that the workers earn Rs 153 for rolling 1,000 beedis, for which they need a day or two.