Even as the public continue to spend hours waiting in serpentine queues at banks and ATMs to withdraw and exchange money, the wage disbursement in the plantation sector in Kerala has been heavily hit by the cash crunch.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Thursday that the wages for plantation workers will be distributed through respective district collectors. The plantation owners can transfer the wage amount to the respective district collectors, who will then distribute it to the workers in cash, the CM said.
The decision by the Kerala government comes after the Assam government implemented the method to distribute fortnightly wages to nearly five lakh tea garden employees a few days ago.
The plantation sector is covered under the Payment of Wages Act 1936, Section 6 of the Act, that states that the wages should be distributed in currency and coins. The cash crunch that followed the central governmentâ€™s demonetisation has delayed the wage disbursement.
Idukki district collector GR Gokul told The News Minute that there are nearly 1 lakh plantation workers in the southern district, whose difficulties were conveyed to the government.
â€śThe plantation workers in Idukki are largely employed in tea and coffee plantations and include workers from other states too. Having received feedback from many of them, we informed the government about the crisis a few days ago. Some workers do have bank accounts, but are against getting their wages transferred to their accounts, owing to the withdrawal limit imposed by the RBI,â€ť he said.
Gokul said that the district administration was in the process of assessing the requirement of currency required to pay off the wages.
B. S. Thirumeni, district collector of Wayanad said that the district has 5700 plantation workers who were affected.
â€śOf the total 8697 plantation workers, more than a half are facing difficulties. In few plantations, the wages are paid on a fortnightly and monthly basis too. The five thousand odd affected workers are the ones who are paid on a weekly basis,â€ť he said.
The collector added that the district administration was in the process of identifying those workers who do not have bank accounts and directing them to open accounts.