A group of 15 people from Andhra was found protesting outside the Kollam crime branch office on Thursday. They alleged that a few CITU workers forcibly took away their brooms, for not giving “nokkukooli”.
“They had come here to complain that their brooms which they had brought here to sell, were taken away by some CITU workers for not paying money. They approached the Crime Branch mistakenly thinking that it was a police station. We directed them to a police station. Later the issue was solved,” said an officer from crime branch office.
As per reports, the broom sellers were found crying outside the crime branch office. While speaking to media, they said that they were asked to pay Rs 2000 by the CITU workers as nokkukooli.
“We told them we would pay Rs 400 or Rs 500 but they did not agree and took away three-four bundles of our brooms,” one of the men said.
“They came in three bikes and forcibly took away our brooms,” he added.
Nokkukooli is an unofficial wage norm practised in Kerala where a fee is paid to trade union activists for allowing the transportation or unloading of goods. The term literally translates to ‘fee for watching’.
Nokkukooli has always been a controversial subject in Kerala, with trade unions being criticised for charging money, to just watch goods being loaded or unloaded.
Refuting the allegations, Kollam CITU leader Jayakumar told The News Minute that the brooms were taken away not because the group hadn’t paid nokkukooli, but for not paying the fee for unloading the goods.
“Nokkukooli issue was just created by media to get publicity, we asked them money as we unloaded the brooms. They said they don’t have money to pay and it was they who suggested us to take away the brooms until they pay up,” Jayakumar said.
He also said that the brooms were later given back to the group.