The Tamil Nadu government would take steps to procure wax, a key ingredient in making matchsticks, in bulk and provide it to matchbox manufacturers, Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises T M Anbarasan told the state Assembly on Tuesday.
Replying to call attention motions moved by members over the plight of matchbox making units and workers, the Minister said there are more than 700 matchbox manufacturing units in Tamil Nadu employing over four lakh workers.
In Tuticorin's Kovilpatti and Virudhunagar's Sivakasi and Sattur, about 500 units are operating.
Of the six unions, units under two unions based out of Kovilpatti and Sattur have stopped work citing rise in prices of raw materials.
The matchbox unit workers began the 12-day strike from April 6 with a majority of employees in the factories being women. The matchbox units are expected to witness a production loss of around Rs 6 crore every day, according to industry officials.
To address the issue, the Minister said he chaired a meeting on Monday in which representatives of manufacturers of matchboxes and raw materials along with trade representatives participated.
The participants said the ongoing Russian-Ukraine war and America's sanctions against Belarus has hit the import of potassium chloride, which is a key raw material, and its price has risen over 50 per cent and similarly that of wax has also increased.
There was also a scarcity for waste paper considering the European Union ban on export of waste paper to India, they stated, adding that import cost has also increased and the matchbox manufacturing industry was affected.
There is a slide in export of matchboxes and there is sluggishness in manufacturing. In view of scarcity of raw materials, there is a rise in manufacturing cost, they said.
The Minister said the government would take steps to procure wax, a key ingredient, in bulk from Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited, through the Tamil Nadu Small Industries Development Corporation and provide it to matchstick manufacturers.
Since the EU has lifted the ban on export of waste paper to India, its prices would come down in about 6-8 weeks, he said.
Pointing out that potassium chloride is also being imported from Jordan, the Minister said all steps would be taken by the government to ensure its hassle free availability to manufacturers.