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MLM distributors, employees to stage hunger strike on Onam

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Kochi: To protest "continued harassment" by police against the industry, women distributors and families of employees of Multi Level Marketing companies will go on a fast during 'Onam' festival on September 16 in front of the secretariat in Thiruvanathapuram.

As a last resort, women distributors and workers have decided to go on a fast on September 16. If the government fails to address their grievance after the token strike, the agitation will be intensified, Distributors Protection Council members Metty Issac, Neela Devi and Sheela Kesavadas told reporters here today.

They said this was a "wake up" call to the state government, which was "sleeping" over the issues facing the the industry.

Nearly a year ago, Kerala Police had launched raids against various MLM companies, including Amway, Modicare, Mona.vie among others and shut down offices of all Direct selling companies operating in MLM model.

Though Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had promised to take necessary steps to resolve the issue, which had affected over five lakh families in the state, nothing had been initiated in the last 10 months, the members said.

MLM industry has been operating in Kerala since 1995 providing self employment opportunities to lakhs of people, mainly women. Over 60 per cent of active workers in this industry are women. From 1995 to 2011, various governments had only supported and encouraged this industry.

The government had collected over Rs 2,500 crore in Sales Tax alone in the last 15 years from these companies where business is done only through sale of products. In 2009-10 fiscal, over Rs 250 crore had gone to the state exchequer by way of sales tax from these companies.

The police action which began after UDF came into power had led to a loss of over Rs 500 crore for the exchequer and also rendered more than five lakh families jobless, they said.

While the business model was being successfully operated in various countries and accepted in all other Indian states, it was difficult to understand why Kerala Government alone was hell bent on shutting the industry, the members said.

PTI

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