Palakkad: Though the state has outlawed 'nokkukooli' or gawking charges, alleged lack of clarity on norms triggered an altercation between Palakkad municipality authorities and headload workers on Wednesday.
Municipality officials were forced to hold up the construction of a comfort station at Olavakkode after trade union workers demanded a certain assured wage for unloading materials from a truck. The workers argued that since the load tray of the truck has to be raised in order to unload the contents, the fee does not come under the definition of gawking charges.
The CITU, affiliated to the CPM, wanted the municipality to allow the labourers to unload the cement blocks, but the authorities did not yield to the demand. Following which, workers attached to the trade union disrupted the unloading of goods, stalling the construction works.
Earlier, the other major trade unions such as the pro-Congress INTUC and the BJP-affiliated BMS had questioned the decision to use trucks to transport materials for the construction activities undertaken by the municipality. A consensus was reached after the municipality officials held talks with them, but the office-bearers of the CITU refused to agree to the conditions put forward by the municipality, said municipal vice-chairman C Krishnakumar.
The issue will be discussed at the next state council meeting to be held in Pathanamthitta, he added.
“More clarity is required on loading and unloading norms involving trucks,” said CITU district joint secretary M S Scaria.
Labour office intervenes
In another incident, headload workers demanded high wages for loading works at the KSEB’s meter testing facility at Thirumala in Thiruvananthapuram, but were forced to reduce the charges following the intervention of the district labour office.
The contractor approached the labour office after workers demanded Rs 5,000 to load the defective metres onto a truck in order to take them to Palakkad. Officials attached to the labour office warned them that a case would be registered against them. Following which they agreed to do the work for Rs 1,700.