Belgaum factory workers protest ban on gutka

Labourer attempts self-immolation, saved by colleagues

Belgaum factory workers protest ban on gutka

Workers of the Sanjay Ghodawat Pan Masala factory at Mankapur village in Chikodi taluk staged demonstrations in front of the unit on Saturday, protesting the State government’s decision to ban the manufacture and sale of gutka.

One of the labourers, identified as Shahir Yadwan, attempted suicide by pouring kerosene on himself and setting himself ablaze, but was prevented from doing so by others. Another displayed a rope with a noose.

They contended that they had been working in the factory for over 25 years and it did not have any adverse impact on their health. Each labourer was getting a salary of Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 and hundreds of families were dependent on the gutka factories for a living.

The factory owners had invested huge sums and they too would be affected badly, the workers said. The government should review its decision, they said.
‘Govt creating problems’

They alleged that the government, instead of getting labour laws implemented properly and protecting the interests of labourers, had been creating problems for them by banning gutka.

“Poor families would face the brunt and labourers aged between 40 years and 45 years would be left jobless,” they said.

The workers said they saw a conspiracy, as the government had not banned liquor and cigarettes that were costly, but had banned gutka, which costs just Rs two a packet.

Leader Mallu Khot warned that they would lay a siege to the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore if the government did not revoke the ban. More than a thousand labourers took part in the protest.

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