Thiruvananthapuram: It was with much fanfare that the Kerala Government banned gawking charges (‘nokku kooli’) from May Day in 2018. However, the much-hated practice of labourers continued with the backing of political masters and shopkeepers and other traders became victims of gang attacks and destruction of property.
Now, the joint meeting of headload workers' unions in the state has decided not to charge “nokku kooli”. The unions made it clear that they would only demand the wages legally fixed by the government.
Labour minister V Sivankutty welcomed the decision of the trade unions.
The workers while taking a strong decision to protect their rights should also not forget about their responsibility towards the other sections of society, he said.
He referred to the recent allegations regarding a section of workers demanding “nooku kooli'' and exorbitant wages for unloading of equipment meant for Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).
"None of the trade unions are responsible for this particular incident. The workers who resorted to this wrong practice were not members of any trade union. This was the act of a group of local people. But the blame was put on all headload workers unions who drew flak from various sections for something which they had not done," Sivankutty said.
The minister said though such incidents are isolated, the trade unions should be vigilant not to invite the opprobrium of public.
Sivankutty even claimed Kerala is an investment-friendly state. Therefore the unions should ensure that the enemies of the state do not get an opportunity to highlight such incidents and portray Kerala as a place which is not suited for investments.
This kind of caution and vigilance is required in the activities of all trade unions, he added.
The minister also said the government was seriously contemplating changes in the Headload Workers Act in consonance with the present day requirements.
In 2018 demanding nooku kooli was made a punishable offence and the practice continued. The Governor had the signed the amendment to the sub-sections I and II of the Kerala Headload Worker's Act.