Cardamom workers end strike; crop loss estimated at 20%

Written by Commodities Bureau | Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 26 | Updated: Aug 27 2008, 06:20am hrs
Cardamom plantations in Kerala are back in business this week after indefinite strike by the workers was called off. The strike, which lasted 12 days, hit plantations at a time when the cardamom plants need most attention. The strike was withdrawn following a wage settlement on the lines of those accepted by tea workers recently of Rs 126.90 per day.

Although plantation-owners were not happy by the compromise wage mooted by the state government, the prolonged crisis at cardamom plantations forced them to agree, sources told FE. Traders said that though cardamom now fetched nearly Rs 600 per kilo, unlike rubber and tea, it is hit by a wide set of price and production vagaries. At major auction centres of Vandanmedu and Bodhimedu, the strike did not seriously disrupt the market . These centres had enough pre-dried stocks for over a fortnight. However, the standstill in production had brought damages to the tune of Rs 8 crore, according to early estimates.

In Kerala has cardamom is grown over 75,000 acre. Last year, 9,618 tonne were produced. Thanks to the conducive climate, this year at least 12,000 tonne output was expected. The strike, which occured during the peak season, would entail a production loss of about 20%, D Marthandan, a cardamom planter, said. Unions of varying political colours had been on strike from August 13. While there were token strikes at tea, coffee and rubber plantations, the cardamom sector was hit by a indefinite strike. The plantation labour committee of the state government had recommended the daily wage of Rs 150 at rubber plantations and that at tea and coffee plantations was settled at Rs 115. Besides the tea sector, extra productivity would fetch Rs 126.90 in wages to the worker. It is this wage that has now been recommended for the cardamom worker.