The coir industry, once thriving and the cradle of the communist movement in Kerala, is on the decline.
The production process has decentralised from the organised sector to household operations, pushing the coir workers into a marginal existence. A nexus of bureaucrats, middlemen, contractors and politicians corner all the benefits, while the coir workers toil hard in difficult conditions for a pittance.It is critical to revive the industry, focus on the coir workers’ rights, ensure dignified work conditions and preserve the traditional industrial technology.
Gokuldas, a coir worker in Alappuzha, says: ‘This
is passed on to us through our dna! This is our family occupation. We are left
with no options… so we continue doing this’