THE KERALA government on Thursday decided to end the practice of ‘nokku kooli’ (gawking charge) — a practice whereby ‘headload workers’ demand payment for loading/unloading work done by machines or other labourers too.
The decision to do away with ‘nokku kooli’ from May 1 was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, which was attended by representatives of various trade unions.
It come days after an expatriate, who had returned to Kerala to start an automobile workshop, committed suicide in Kollam district after the CPI allegedly demanded money for “sanctioning” his project. Its youth wing, AIYF, had planted its flags on the businessman’s land.
The issue was raised in the Assembly earlier this week, when members highlighted the plight of potential investors in Kerala. The Opposition said the practice of ‘nokku koli’ had affected trade and industry in the state.
In an official release, the Chief Minister said trade union militancy and ‘nokku kooli’ had impaired the image of the state among investors. All trade unions should cooperate to end this practice, he said. The government plans to convene district-level meetings in the next two months to convey the message to an estimated three lakh ‘headload workers’.
R Chandrasekhan, state president of the Congress-affiliated INTUC, said all trade unions welcomed the decision. “Our organisation is against ‘nokku kooli’. We recently suspended four such units following complaints of ‘nokku kooli’,’’ he said.