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  • Row over wage hike hits cashew sector

    Apr 18th, 2015

    Uncertainty has gripped the cashew sector with the majority of factories remaining shut in the wake of a wage hike for workers coming into force on April 1.While factory owners insist that the wage hike is “unaffordable,” trade unions have launched agitations insisting on enforcing the hike.At a press meet on Friday, factory owners under the banner of the Kerala Cashew Processors and Exporters Association said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy should intervene to settle the issue.They demanded that a commission be set up to study the situation in the cashew sector and whether the 35 per cent wage hike was good for the industry.President A.M. Sahaludeen said more than 500 cashew factories which had been functioning till March had been closed. The owners said attempts by trade unions to make political capital from the industry had caused the situation. Secretary K.M. Nazar said the practical aspects of running the industry in the present global scenario had been ignored by the trade unions. He said the owners were wiling to accept a justifiable wage hike but the 35 per cent hike would ruin the industry.The rise in international price of raw nut had worsened the situation. At present, raw nut was available only from Ivory Coast, where the price had reached $1,400 a tonne.This was about $400 above the price in the international market during December-January. On the other hand, the price of kernel in the global markets was remaining stable at $3.35 per pound for the past one year.Mr. Nazar said that to make things worse, the Union government had withdrawn the 5 per cent export incentive under the Vishesh Krishi Gram Upaj Yojana scheme to the industry. He urged the State government to pressure the Centre to restore the incentive to cashew exports. As it was a traditional industry, steps should be taken to declare cashew as a protected industry, he added.