Petty Comrades to Rule Kerala?
Recently the new Minister for Labor in Mr Achuthanandan’s cabinet P K Gurudasan has said that Government will not be implementing “THE KERALA LOADING AND UNLOADING ACT, 2002”. He termed the act as a “BLACK LAW”. This made me write this post.
I was in the first year of Engineering (1994) when we decided to construct one more room to our house. Each day we have to bring in 50 sacks of cement. As soon as the mini lorry arrived a group of about 10 CITU workers came from nowhere. They wanted Rs.1000 to unload the cement from the lorry. My father was ready to givel Rs.300. They came down to Rs.750 and started using abusive language. The so-called leader told “Give us Rs.750, otherwise we will sit here and will make sure no one touches it ”. They thought we would finally oblige to their threads. Another chotta (small) leader shouted at my father “If you keep us like that finally you may have to unload it”. My father asked them is it ok that I can unload. They thought we can never do it and agreed. My father and myself unloaded it in about 45 minutes.
If you are a Malayali or if you have stayed in Kerala for a period of time you will surely have some stories like this to tell - unruly behavior of so called trade union leaders. One more example of highhandedness of head load workers, which I can recollect – My first job as a Civil Engineer was in BSES Kerala Power Ltd during its construction stage in 1998. Some stuff like generator that weighs about 5 to 10 tons will come to the site and you have to unload it using a crane. The head load workers just have to put the hook on the generator and they charge Rs.1000/ton. In addition they have what is called “Nokkukuli”. Can you believe this? How can any industry come to Kerala?
The High Court of Kerala while delivering a verdict in the M. Jnana Prakasam Vs M. Natarajan case in 2001 blasted the trade unionism of head load workers
They were considered as a group of belligerent and quarrelsome group, always charging exorbitant wages even for carrying petty loads. They enforced the wage rates prescribed by themselves by monopolising the right to do loading and unloading work in a particular area. `Engage them or do not engage anybody' was their motto. This monopoly brought in affluence and headload work became a lucrative job and this prompted many to attempt to enter the field under the leadership of rival unions
To put a control on the highhandedness of head load workers the government introduced this act which was termed as “THE KERALA LOADING AND UNLOADING (REGULATION OF WAGES AND RESTRICTION OF UNLAWFUL PRACTICES) ACT, 2002 “. The salient features of the act were
- The owner of the building has the right to carry out loading and unloading work for domestic purposes by himself or by employing workers of his own choice
- In notified areas under Section 5 of the Act, the employer has also been given the right to carry out loading and unloading works for non-domestic purposes, either by himself or by employing workers of his own choice. These areas include industrial parks, export processing zones, industrial and commercial zones, tourism project zones and agricultural markets notified by the Government from time to time
- Wages of the head load workers will be decided by the Government and will be notified from time to time
- The Act empowers the police to register a case against offending workers either suo moto or on a written complaint made in this behalf by an employer or any person aggrieved.
This act came as a great relief for the common man as he no longer has to battle it out with the unruly head load workers. It is an irony in Kerala that a law which common man has welcomed with both hands was termed as black law by a Minister. May be for communist ministers all laws that don’t allow petty comrades from harassing common man and make money may be a black law. LDF has showed within a fortnight of coming to power that they have “comrades” interest in mind than the interest of common man who voted for them.
GOD, SAVE COMMON PEOPLE OF "GOD'S OWN COUNTRY" FROM THESE HEADLOAD ROWDIES
photo courtesy "The Hindu"