Kerala HC says militant trade unionism still exists in state


The Kerala High Court on Thursday while hearing a petition filed by a hotel owner in Kollam seeking police protection to unload materials using his own workers, blamed the state’s failure to wipe out the practice of gawking charges, often referred to in local parlance as ‘nokukooli’ and emphasised that militant trade unionism continues to exist in the state.

Justice Devan Ramachandran went hammer and tongs and said, “I don’t want to hear the word ‘nokukooli’ in the state again. It has to be abolished. There are still militant trade unions in the state. Strict action has to be taken against those who continue the practice, regardless of what party or union they belong to,” said an angry Ramachandran.

Even though there exists clear laws for loading and unloading of materials at work sites, factories and even where construction of residential units takes place, at several places, the local trade unions continue to extort money, even if they have not done the loading or unloading work and in recent times, quite a number of times people have approached the court seeking police protection and on Thursday it was the turn of a hotel worker to approach the court and Judge Ramachandran spoke very tough.

“If the employer denies employment, the freight forwarder must approach the Board. The remedy for denial of employment is not violence,” added the judge who further pointed out that the primary reason for fewer employment opportunities in the state was the inhibition among people to invest in Kerala.

The Court had earlier asked why the ban was not being implemented effectively despite the ban. The bench then asked the state police chief to inform the steps taken in this regard.

Incidentally time and again this issue has surfaced and each time the government especially state Industries Minister P. Rajeev and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan say that strict action will be taken against those who demand gawking charges, these words don’t seem to have any effect, as the victims have to run to the court to get police protection for going forward with their work.