Karnataka State Beedi Workers Federation affiliated to CITU lead protest against the Union government’s decision to withdraw the scholarship given to children of beedi workers.
Scores of beedi workers from 12 districts across the State staged a protest in Bangalore on Tuesday under the banner of the Karnataka State Beedi Workers Federation opposing the Union government’s decision to withdraw the scholarship given to children of beedi workers studying between classes 1 and 8.
The Centre last year decided to remove beedi workers from the list of beneficiaries of the scholarships in the light of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009.
Syed Mujeeb, State general secretary of the federation, pointed out that the scholarship had made it possible for lakhs of beedi workers to send their children to school. “The scholarship is extremely essential for us and was used as a medium to uplift the families of beedi workers. Most beedi workers come from low economic backgrounds and are unable to bear the cost of education. Children of beedi workers will be unable to go to school as the workers will be unable to bear the cost.”
Criticising the government’s decision to withdraw the scholarships, Mr. Mujeeb emphasised that the fund for the scholarships was raised by the beedi manufacturers. “The government is not spending a single amount on this scholarship. The entire amount is paid as welfare cess by the beedi producers. The government is only acting as an intermediary.”
Apart from this, the federation has demanded strict enforcement of labour laws and has demanded that a minimum of Rs. 200 be provided for rolling 1,000 beedis. They have also demanded a minimum pension of Rs. 3,000 besides insisting that all beedi workers be given identity cards and BPL cards.