Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government has decided to end the notorious practice of ‘nokku kooli’ (gawking charges) in the state from May 1. All central trade unions supported the government move at an emergency meeting convened by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday to discuss the issue. The meeting also decided to curb the tendency of trade unions to supply labourers for various works.
The meeting was held after a Gulf returnee, Sugathan, committed suicide in Punalur, after his plan to set up a workshop was thwarted by AIYF activists, who had put up flags at the site. The incident had triggered a big controversy and was even discussed in the assembly.
The chief minister had announced in the assembly that he would call a meeting of trade union leaders to discuss ‘nokku kooli’ and labour supply by unions.
As a follow up to the state-level meet, collectors will call a meeting of trade unions in the respective districts.
Even as it is adopting strict measures to end ‘nokku kooli’ and labour supply, the government said it will examine the issue of workers losing jobs as a result of mechanisation. “The government is of the view that maximum number of local workers should be employed while any new venture is launched,” said Pinarayi.
Regarding the industrial climate in the state, the chief minister said that it was favourable for entrepreneurs. “No industrial activity has been adversely affected by labour unrest over the last decade. Industrialists also have not complained in this regard,” he said.
However, Pinarayi admitted that the general impression regarding the state was that it was not industry-friendly. “The ‘nokku kooli’ and labour supply have earned a bad name for labourers in Kerala. Though all central trade unions oppose these practices, they are continuing unchecked,” said the chief minister.
“The government is now trying to wipe out such illegal activities,” he added.
Those who took part in the meeting included labour minister T P Ramakrishnan and leaders of major trade unions.
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