Amid the cries of hardships arising out of demonetisation and the subsequent currency crunch, the ceramics cluster of Morbi in Saurashtra has gone an extra mile to ease the currency shortage by playing a guarantor to workers for buying grocery on credit.

The Morbi Ceramics Association and its member companies approached the grocers in the vicinity of the colonies of the industrial workers and asked them to provide daily grocery to the workers on credit, with a guarantee from the respective companies.

“These workers are enrolled with companies, so at the time of wage payment, the amount will be debited from their salary. This reduces the rush for cash at ATMs and banks and makes life a bit smooth for them,” said Nilesh Jetpariya, President, Morbi Dhuva Glaze Tiles Association.

According to Jetpariya, most workers get their salaries in bank accounts, but due to the shortage of cash at ATMs and bank branches, they have been unable to withdraw money. Some of the companies themselves purchased grocery in bulk, and made a retail distribution for their workers.

The ceramic cluster in Morbi houses close to 600 manufacturing units and employs over 3 lakh workers, mostly from outside Gujarat. They are provided residence in the localities nearby the manufacturing facilities.

Oral commitment

“The guarantee is provided in the form of oral commitment. There is no formal contract or legal documentation. It all happens through mutual trust. We recommend our employees to the grocer and they provide them groceries on credit. It is all informal, but effective,” said Rajubhai Patel of Face Ceramics, located at Lakhdhirpur.

The move has been welcomed by the workers. “In places where a grocer hesitates to give goods on credit, a guarantee by the company makes it easy to meet the routine household necessities,” said Haribhai Davda, a worker at a ceramic tiles factory located at Pipali in Morbi.

Meanwhile, the manufacturers believe the cash shortage situation has started improving with passing days.

“There were issues initially, and about 60 per cent of the units were closed down due to that. But this is a temporary situation and we expect it to be normal soon.

“We are taking required measures to ease the pressure on our workers as much as we can,” said Veljibhai Patel, a veteran industrialist in the Morbi ceramics circle.

The Morbi industrial cluster produces wall, floor, vitrified and polished glazed vitrified tiles, among others, across 600-odd units. The region exports tiles worth ₹1,000 crore annually.

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