‘Sacked for seeking pay hike at Nava Kerala Sadas’, AITUC workers on strike in Kochi

KSEU state general secretary K P Haneef accompanies security guard Sooraj Kumar, who threatened to die by suicide, to the protest venue. Photo: Onmanorama

Kochi: The city witnessed high drama on Monday as a security guard, who has been terminated from service at the Ernakulam Revenue Tower, climbed a tree on the premise of the building and threatened suicide as part of an ongoing labour strike.

Sooraj Kumar M S, a native of Valiyakulam near Udayamperoor, resorted to the extreme step as an indefinite strike by the Kerala Security Employees Union (KSEU), which is part of the CPI-backed AITUC, entered the eighth day. Thirteen employees of the Revenue Tower, including security guards and cleaning workers, launched the protest after they were issued termination notice by the Kerala State Housing Board. The protesters alleged that they were sacked from their on-contract job after they submitted a memorandum to the state government during the Chief Minister’s Nava Kerala Sadas outreach programme, seeking a hike of Rs 100 in their daily wage. They are paid Rs 300 a day.

After Sooraj climbed atop the tree, police officers spoke to KSHB officials and staff of Revenue Minister K Rajan and received an assurance that the protesters’ issue would be resolved in a couple of days. Sooraj said he decided to take the extreme step on his own as he was fed up with the apathy towards their strike.

The protest assumes political significance as it takes place in the wake of the Lok Sabha elections, and the protesters belong to AITUC which is the trade union wing of the CPI, the second-largest ally of the ruling Left Democratic Front.

KSEU leaders said their union would intensify the strike if their demand to reinstate the workers is not met in two days. The union will stage protests at all offices of the KSHB in solidarity with the agitators in Ernakulam.

K P Haneef, state general secretary, KSEU, said it was wrong to adopt such anti-worker stances when the LDF is in power. He said the protest was launched after they got the nod from AITUC state leadership.

The appointments to the revenue tower are done by the management committee and the protesters have demanded action against the panel and KSHB chairman P P Suneer, who had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections against Rahul Gandhi on CPI ticket. Though Onmanorama tried to contact him for a response, he was unavailable over the phone.

The protesters said they had to face verbal harassment from the management after they sought a pay hike at the Nava Kerala Sadas.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.