As the sun sets, employees of firework systems mill around the singular liquor store downing their option drink and laughing away their travails, which is likewise a tip to alcoholism amongst a chunk of them.
Numerous employees like M S Velusamy, who make about Rs 300- Rs 350 as incomes daily invest a half of their earnings to consume alcohol, a minimum of on 2 to 3 days a week. As both the spouses operate in numerous cases, they attempt to make ends meet and womenfolk act as a ‘deterrent’ to try and prevent their other halves from consuming alcohol often and exceedingly.
While this is a difficult circumstance for areas of workers, the approximately three-lakh strong workforce in the firecracker market particularly those in unlicensed, grey units daily face chemical threat and a possibility of destructive health impacts.
With whitish grey powder-chemical compounds that enter into the making of firecrackers- all over and his eyes appearing red, a worker rushes to take a bath in the factory premises following conclusion of the day’s work as a delay would suggest problem in removing the ‘powder’ from aching like areas over his neck, chest and abdominal area.
A veteran employee of an unit off Sengamalathupatti, he applies coconut oil, sitting under a tree after bath. Employees wrapping little chemical packs with jute thread for atom bomb crackers, stick an adhesive like paper over their fingers, as continuous friction triggers skin irritation and rashes. The cover slips away,” says an employee.
The majority of workers could be seen either directly touching or handling chemical ingredients of some kind or the other during a number of levels of the production processes. Industry people say that dangerous process like filling and blending are carried out in safe, different enclosures early in the morning and such tasks are designated only to trained guys. All other processes are non-hazardous, they say.
In some factories, employees state they get Rs 20 as “banana allowance” to eat banana to assist simple digestion and “help neutralise” negative results in view of exposure to chemicals.
Owners of firework systems say they “take great care of the health of staff members which consists of Staff members State Insurance coverage cover,” and some point to periodic health camps.
Velusamy, Venkitakaruman and other workers, who have spent over 20 years in the organised industry informed PTI, “though not everybody establish allergies or other issues, an area of workers develop some health problems.”.
Velusamy, who just recently went through a coronary bypass surgery in an ESI facility states with a chuckle, “chemicals ought to suit your body constitution, else it may be challenging; skills and endurance are required to sustain.”.
For all the hard work, employees around get anywhere between Rs 290 to Rs 500- Rs 570 daily as salaries and a perk varying between 20 and 27 percent in addition to Provident Fund and Employees State Insurance Plan cover. The pay structure is only indicative and uses to arranged, licensed and properly run systems and about 55 per cent of the labor force is women.
Remuneration, in some big units also, covers aspects like the “piece rate” concept and working hours (approximately 4 and 8 hours) and pay varies depending on the kind of work done while dangerous procedures like chemical filling are mainly appointed to men. Workers say that yearly hike is pending in several systems for at least 2 to 3 years.
Unlike distinct and mandated practices to guarantee security in regulated, licenced systems, employees in unlicensed and illegal firecracker manufacturing cottage industry are exposed to grave risks and a piece of accidents, at least over a lots accidents with lots of casualties over a span of about 3 years, were reported from grey systems.
Apart from some people who produce crackers at homes without any approval, unlawful units involve a cobweb of ties between the original licensee and a number of others, who in fact manufacture firecrackers without statutory authorizations.
In towns off Vembakkottai like Thayalpatti, making of firecrackers in the houses is popular locally and the majority of people participated in the work are also knowledgeable about the risk of accidents.
While certified firms invest in infrastructure, security and pay taxes, their lack in grey systems expands the scope of revenues for them, market insiders declare.
A previous worker of firecracker industry, A Rajkumar remembers that his friend was among the 20 people killed in a fireworks unit at neighboring Achankulam in February.
Among the victims was a young, pregnant lady, Rajkumar, who reached the area early to rescue employees, states with a shudder while remembering the ghastly accident.
” In my mind’s eye, severed limbs and blood at that area have actually not disappeared yet and it is a horrible experience. Now, I am not in the fireworks market.
While a section of people engage themselves in prohibited making of firecrackers considering big earnings, some are oblivious, while others are required by their scenarios to take dangers. “Some people take substantial cash in advance and quicken to finish work frequently ignoring safety.”.
Unlike defined work and payment structure in properly licensed factories, work in such grey units is arranged on numerous tailor-made modes like contract, sub-contract, leasing and so on with substantial money ahead of time from owners frequently acting like a bait.
” The focus will be to hurry and make more cash. In such units, one might make sometimes more money than one might aim in arranged, effectively certified units,” he states.
On such unlawful units, a senior Virudhunagar district official told PTI that though action was being taken constantly, seeing it only from viewpoints like enforcement would be simplified.
Requesting anonymity, he stressed on more awareness on risks and a roadmap for safe and much better profitable opportunities.
” We have actually seen cases where workers themselves do not want PF or ESI, tasks in organised sector. They tend to use up work at the very same time in numerous systems to earn more. This is a tricky issue which has socio-economic measurements too. Desiring make more is understandable considering numerous requirements like kids’s education. The chosen route should be in conformity with laws. We are doing our best.”.
” Accidents can also be avoided by going in for mechanisation and we are dealing with the market on it,” the authorities stated.
Inquired about illegal units, Managing Director, Ayyan Fireworks, G Abiruben batted for stringent action. On mechanisation, he states, “plans are already on in the (managed, properly certified systems in organised sector) fireworks industry to mechanise the chemical mixing and filling process. At the exact same time, mechanisation will not result in task losses as the automated blending machine will be managed by the employee who did it by hand.”.
In his business, such mechanisation is currently in place which ensures outright safety, he points out.
The market is likewise checking out other making procedures that may be mechanised, he states. Ayya Nadar, grandpa of Abiruben was a leader who launched the first firecracker manufacturing system in Sivakasi almost a century ago. While mechanisation is discussed by authorities and market captains, for many workers it is not a definitive aspect to bring their kids and children to operate in firecracker manufacturing systems.
Such men and women have actually been slogging away for several years together to guarantee that their children did well in studies and protected employment in non-fireworks sector.
” Both my children are nurses and my boy is a mechanical engineer and all the 3 are used. I am happy. My kids require not operate in the firecracker industry. Let this work end with me and my better half,” states 48- year old K Karuppiah.
Comparable holds true with numerous other employees including M S Velusamy, with their kids successfully graduating in varied streams and getting work in other sectors.
In addition to his better half, Karuppiah travels 70 kilometers (up and down) daily in a business operated bus to reach his workplace near Sivakasi, from his town, off Watrap.
However, not all employees might manage to send their kids to colleges or to other fields, like this 46- year old woman, working in a system near Pallapatti. Her job is to inject chemicals through a metal tube and suspend two-feet long ‘Rope Sparkler’ (commonly known as Sattai in Tamil, which implies a whip) from a ceiling of unlimited hooks. The lives of such people are hanging in the balance just like the dangling rope sparklers.