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Panguni Pongal bonus helps Sivakasi cracker unit workers beat the crisis

While workers from various manufacturing sectors are going through the throes of unemployment crisis since the lockdown was ordered, the workforce relying on fire cracker manufacturing units in Sivakasi, Virudhunagar district, takes a breather as they have not been affected as much.

Panguni Pongal bonus helps Sivakasi cracker unit workers beat the crisis
Women workers engaged in packing crackers at a unit in Sivakasi


Though lakhs of workers rendered jobless following the closure of cracker manufacturing units in Virudhunagar district over the last two weeks, the Panguni Pongal festival bonus in recent days provided the much-needed income for them, several workers feel.

PN Deva, Virudhunagar district secretary of the CITU, when contacted, said on Saturday that operations in cracker units were suspended since March 22. Each of the worker would be given 20 per cent of their monthly salary.

However, many workers are yet to get their festival bonus from their employers. The bonus payments range from Rs 5,000 to a maximum of Rs 12,000. However, the CITU has already represented the demands of the workers for salaries before closure of the cracker manufacturing units. On behalf of the workers, a petition was submitted to Virudunagar Collector Kannan after the closure of these units.

Pandiyalakshmi, a worker from Vishwanatham near Sivakasi, said the lockdown is still uncertain and the festival bonus would not be adequate to run her family. The worker said the State Government’s financial assistance of Rs 1,000, rice, sugar and dhal during this lockdown period could provide some solace since her husband, a driver in a unit, was also rendered jobless.

According to Ganesan Panchurajan, president of the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TANFAMA), Sivakasi, most of the workers had been provided festival bonus of about 20 to 25 per cent of their monthly salaries. 

About 30 per cent of the cracker workers, who had migrated to Coimbatore, Tirupur and Pollachi when units were closed for three months following a Supreme Court order, returned this year.

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