Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan came down heavily on trade unions in the state for continuing to demand ‘gawking wages’ (nokkukooli), on Monday.
Nookukooli is a practice supported by trade unions in Kerala, where head load workers demand payment for merely watching the goods get loaded or unloaded, while industrialists or merchants or common householders use their own labour for the work. If the head load workers step in to unload/load the goods, the investors will have to pay through their nose for the service.
Read more about nokkukooli here.
The CM made the statement against the practice in the Kerala Assembly, while speaking about Sugathan, an expatriate businessman who killed himself a few weeks ago after CPI's youth wing allegedly demanded a bribe from him for opening a workshop.
Pinarayi Vijayan said that a meeting of trade union representatives will be convened to work towards putting an end to gawking wages and other unfair practices.
Saying that trade unions are essentially meant for the welfare of workers, the CM criticised the bodies saying that it has now taken up the job of "supplying" workers instead.
"A flag represents a union and nowadays, it is being erected everywhere. This is not a good practice," the CM said.
AIYF workers had erected their flags on the land where Sugathan was supposed to open a workshop.
Pinarayi Vijayan said that such practices bring shame to the state. The CM made the remarks while responding to a calling attention motion by MLA Adoor Prakash on Sughathan's suicide.
64-year-old Sugathan from Kollam district hanged himself to death on February 23 at a workshop he was hoping to open. His family has alleged that Sugathan chose to take his own life after being harassed by members of AIYF, who allegedly refused to let him start his business even after taking bribes from him.
The illegal practice of nokkukooli has been prevalent in the state for years together. Despite the Kerala High Court directing the state police to ensure that it is not practiced, workers of trade unions continue to demand it in many places.
Industrialist Kochouseph Chittilappilly, the founder of V-Guard was one of the first in Kerala to have opposed Nookukooli. In 2014, Anupama IAS, who is now the Alappuzha District Collector had confronted a group of workers, who demanded nokkukooli.
She filed a complaint at the Medical College Police Station against Murali, the then CITU convener for demanding gawking wages.