Matchbox factories in TN go on 12-day strike protesting rising raw material costs

The strike is expected to witness a production loss of about Rs 6 crore every day, an industry official told PTI.
Representative Image of a Match Box
Representative Image of a Match Box
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Employees engaged in the matchbox industry in Tamili Nadu have begun a 12-day strike, starting from Wednesday, April 6, to protest against the sharp increase in raw materials, an industry official said. Over five lakh workers are employed in the industry, and the workforce comprises 90% of women employees. The matchbox industry comprising 350 units, with a majority in Thoothukudi and Virudhunagar districts, commenced their strike that is expected to witness a production loss of around Rs 6 crore every day.

"There is no production right now. We have made a representation to the Tamil Nadu government about the hike in raw materials. We are yet to receive a positive response from them," an industry official told PTI. The workers staged a similar protest last year against the increase in production costs which was impacting the industry, he said.

"Even now, we are protesting since the price of raw materials has been increasing on a daily basis, the cost of production has gone up and buyers are not interested in buying our products. That is why we have decided to halt production," National Small Matchbox Manufacturers Association Secretary VS Sethurathinam said.

The matchbox industry units are spread across Thoothukudi and Virudhunagar districts and have been serving both domestic and overseas markets, he said. "Prices of raw materials like wax, red phosphorus have witnessed a sharp increase. Prices of lorry freight have also increased. But we are unable to get the desired selling rates, and on top of that there are no orders also," he said.

To a query, the association secretary said more than 90% of employees comprise women and the livelihood of these people will be affected. Sethurathinam said the 350 companies produce 5,000 bundles a day. Each bundle costs about Rs 400. "This will impact the companies due to the strike," he said.

"Kovilpatti, Kazhugumalai and Vilathikulam in Thoothukudi district, and Sattur, Sivakasi, and Thiruthangal in Virudhunagar district, comprise a majority of the industry. There are some companies located in Tenkasi and Vellore districts also," he said.

The All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) in Namakkal representing the truck owners have extended their support to the strike, he said. "We are not loading any goods in trucks due to the strike. The AIMTC have also extended their support to us," Sethurathinam said.

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