The coir industry has sought the Kerala government's urgent intervention in restructuring the sector’s wages for its long-term survival.
Federation of Indian Coir Exporters Association said that restructuring wages by merging DA with the basic in tune with other traditional industries is a long-standing demand. The unscientific linkage of DA with the basic is resulting in an increased wage structure in the industry.
Added to this is the devaluation benefit being demanded, included and paid for the last six decades which continues to be paid. This has come to a stage where employers and exporters are in no way able to compete in the global markets due to this higher wage cost and low productivity.
“This unscientific system needs an urgent correction. We are not asking for a reduction in the wages, but need a system to be evolved to ensure that the unscientific increases be stopped ensuring the survival of the industry in Kerala”, Josepaul Mathew, Chairman of the Association said while attending a ‘Face to Face’ programme with the Chief Minister.
Referring to wages, the Association pointed out that the CTC for an unskilled worker in the organised sector is ₹1,000 per day, while it is ₹1,700 for skilled workers. Besides, the industry has to provide over 30 per cent of the total earnings as a bonus.
India's coir exports have weathered the Covid crisis, by garnering a revenue of ₹2,800 crore when the pandemic has hit other sectors. Given the scenario, the government should consider enhanced support by providing an export promotion incentive of five per cent based on the export turnover for shipments made out of Cochin Port Trust.
Sajan B.Nair, secretary-general urged the government to take up proper branding and promotion of coir products in the overseas markets to en-cash the advantage of 100 per cent natural ecofriendly product. There is a considerable potential of developing many handmade and hand-crafted articles made out of natural fibres such as coir, jute, seagrass, sisal, cotton and other man-made fibres. “We will be able to produce a wide array of such product at very compelling prices by employing women workers with their inherent talent, skills and creativity”, he said.
The government should also look at institutional selling of coir value-added products through government departments and PSU's. E-commerce may be used as an efficient business model for the sale of coir products through online marketing platforms, he added.
The Association also urged the Centre to appoint a full-time Chairman to head the Coir Board for better planning of the projects and the progress of the industry.