More than 30,000 powerloom units in Surat remained shut on the second consecutive day of the ongoing agitation by workers over wage hikes. The workers torched several vehicles and damaged others in the Bamroli area of Pandesara on Tuesday morning. The situation is reported to be tense in Katargam, Kapodara, Varachha and the Sayan areas, where the agitation had started on Monday.
The effect of the ongoing agitation was seen in Pandesara on Tuesday morning, as majority of the textile factories were forcibly shut down by the workers.
Thousands of workers took out rallies in the morning in the different industrial estates in Pandesara and torched two-wheelers parked outside the factories. They also pelted stones on the operational units in Pandesara.
The police rushed to the site after receiving distress calls and ordered a minor lathicharge to bring the situation under control. The Pandesara police have registered a complaint in connection with damage to property and vehicles and detained 50 workers from Katargam, Pandesara, and Sayan.
Katargam Inspector Vinay Shukal said: “We are carrying out patrols in the different areas and have requested the workers to rejoin their jobs or remain at homes.”
Federation of Gujarat Weavers Association Ashok Jirawala said: “The rioters are outsiders, and the factory workers are sacred of them. We have requested the weavers to work out the issue, and if they are not being given sufficient salaries, it should be raised.”
Yogesh Mehra, president of the Pandesara Industrial Association, said: “Majority of the factories are shut down in Pandesara. We have found that the workers who were spreading disturbances, were not from our areas. They had threatened the workers to support the agitation. There is no issue of wage hike in our areas as we are giving sufficient salary to the workers and are providing them with the best facilities. Seeing the situation going out of control, many factory owners voluntarily shut down their factories rather than risk damage to their goods and properties. We have sought help from the police to round up the rioters and take strict action against them.”
At present, the workers are paid anything between Rs 8,000 and Rs 14,000 depending upon the quality of weaving. The textile workers, much like their counterparts in the diamond polishing industry, work in unregistered units and have no labour welfare security.
The protests are not organised and neither have the backing of any union or committee. The protesters are demanding payment at par across the various industrial estates within Surat. They also are demanding that they be paid as the per the length of the fabric weaved, which is not the case at present.