Here's why the ruling CPI(M) in Kerala wants to rein in its labour force:
- Cases of workers charging money without doing work is on the rise
- Even strategic organisations like the VSSC and the Kochi port are not spared
- Labour leaders have to be paid before trucks are allowed into their premises
- Instances of unions demanding money even when cranes are used to lift 80-tonne loads
- Labour trouble has repelled prospective investors from the state
- Senior CPI(M) leaders say that unfair practices by labour unions must stop
***The trade union movement in Kerala has largely thrived on blessings from the Communist parties. Ironically, the ruling CPI(M)-led front in the state today is facing problems from the very institution it nurtured. Worker's unions have crossed all limits by making it a practice to demand money for work they are not doing. They call it 'nokku kooli', or wages for (just) looking on. While this practice has only picked up ever since the Left came to power, its latest victim is the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram.
It was a norm till the other day: vehicles that brought in machinery, including sophisticated equipment, to VSSC, the Indian Space Research Organisation's lead centre for launch vehicles, had to stop half a km away from its gate. They can enter only after the lorry drivers paid the union leaders nokku kooli. The government eventually saw the ludicrous aspect of it—state industry minister Elamaram Kareem, himself a trade unionist, intervened and stopped it.