The sugarcane crushing season for 2020 to 2021 will begin from November 1. The strike called by seven unions representing sugarcane workers was withdrawn after talks were held with the Nationalist Congress Party chief and Vasantdada Sugar Institute chairman Sharad Pawar. As per the agreement arrived with the Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories in Maharashtra on Tuesday, there will be a 14 per cent rise in the payment made to sugarcane workers, increase in commission to 19 per cent from 18.5 per cent paid to the Mukadam and the tenure of the agreement will be for three years.
Minister of Cooperation Balasaheb Patil, who was present at today’s meeting, told the Free Press Journal, “With today’s 14 per cent rise, workers carrying sugarcane on their head up to 100 metres and loading them in tractors will get Rs 273.14 per ton against Rs 239.60 per ton. For loading the sugarcane in bullock carts from the field, workers will now get Rs 304.78 per ton against Rs 267.34 per ton. And for loading sugarcane in a makeshift tractor, workers will be paid Rs 237.46 per ton against Rs 208. 30 per ton.” He said the agreement with the sugarcane worker unions will remain in place for crushing seasons 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23.
Former cooperation minister Harshvardhan Patil said the talks with sugarcane worker unions were successful. This has paved the way for a smooth start of crushing season in the state.
About 10 lakh to 14 lakh sugarcane workers participate every year during the crushing season. Today’s agreement is crucial, as Maharashtra has a record 900 lakh tonnes of sugarcane available for crushing and the state is expected to produce 101 lakh tonnes of sugar. However, the state government is encouraging sugar mills to go in for ethanol production, which is estimated to be 108 crore litre. The sugar production may thereby be projected at 92 lakh tonnes after the cane is diverted for ethanol production.
It was also agreed at today’s meeting that the state government will complete the registration of a welfare corporation named after former union minister Gopinath Munde for sugarcane workers in November and make it operational from December. Social Justice Minister Dhananjay Munde made the presentation at the meeting on the various measures taken by his department for the effective functioning of the corporation.