Nookukooli is a practice 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.

Kerala once again claims it will put an end to the practice of paying gawking wages
news Labour Friday, March 09, 2018 - 13:04

The Kerala government, on Thursday, announced that it would abolish the practice of collecting nookukooli, ‘gawking wages’, in the state on May 1. This comes a day after an entrepreneur from Thiruvananthapuram wrote an open letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on how his life was threatened by a trade union attached to the Bharatiya Janata Party because he refused to pay them nookukooli.

The practise of Nokkukooli is however something that has been long associated with the Left wing labour groups. 

Incidentally, the state had declared Thiruvananthapuram as nookukooli-free in 2011, but it has continued unabated. 

Nookukooli is a practice 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.

The decision on Thursday came after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan met with the Labour Minister TP Ramakrishnan and state leaders of national trade unions. All the trade unions pledged their support to end this unethical practice. The CM later took to Facebook to announce this decision.

“Trade unions have pledged their full support to the state’s decision to put an end to gawking wages. Before May 1, all the district collectors will convene a meeting with the trade unions. The government is working on how help those workers who will lose their jobs owing to the latest technology,” read his Facebook post.

The CM also added that these gawking wages haven’t affected industries in the state the way it is perceived.

“In the past decades, the trade union activities have not really affected the industries in Kerala, although that is now how it is perceived by others. The practice of gawking wages have tarnished the image of the industry sector in the state,” added CM.

This isn’t the first time the state has claimed to abolish this practice.

Read: Will Kerala really put an end to 'gawking wages'? Not unless there is political will

Despite previous attempts by both the Left Democratic Front and the United Democratic Front governments to put an end to nookukooli and make Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode districts free of this tax, these districts have seen several complaints registered in the recent past. 

The Kerala High Court had also recently come down heavily on the practice, warning the state police to take strict action against instances of nookukooli, which was declared a non-bailable offence.

Kochouseph Chittilappilly, the founder of V-Guard, was one of the first big industrialists in Kerala to have opposed nookukooli. The present Alappuzha collector, TV Anupama, had also opposed nookukooli.

Almost every industrial zone and residential area in the state is constantly watched over by the trade unions. When a vehicle carrying goods is spotted, workers reach the spot where the goods are to be unloaded. They will then either charge an exorbitant amount or demand payment for merely watching while the goods are unloaded using cranes or in-house workers. 

 

 

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