Sugar millers pressurize sugarcane workers to call off strike

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Gujarat: Sugarcane harvesters called off their 14-day strike after the sugar mill owners pressurized them to resume work. Around 2 lakh workers from Tribal area of Dang district, Vyara in Tapi district of South Gujarat and Dhule and Badwani of Maharashtra were on strike from September 25.

“The cane harvesters migrate to the South Gujarat which has 16 sugar mills. They were agitating for higher wages but surrendered to the millers’ pressure,” said an activist from the region.

Harvesters claim that they get Rs 119 per day and the government should pay them higher wages. “The wages we get were fixed six years ago. We are paid Rs 238 for every tonne of sugarcane harvesting, bundling and loading it in the truck. It requires the work of two persons. So per person, we get just Rs 119 per day,” said one of the agitating labourers.

“These workers were being forced each day either to commence work or return the money they owe to the sugar mill workers,” he further added.

The season lasts from October to April, and the workers are forced to take a loan to sustain their families as the wages are meagre. They return to work at mills to pay back the debts, and the cycles continue.

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