Kerala Communist labour union demands Rs 30,000 for just watching crane unloading concrete pipes; Contractors return abandoning load

In another embarrassing incident of NokkuKooli or gawking wage is a euphemism for extortion, contractors returned without being able to unload concrete pipes which were brought for the development of an elephant shelter in the state’s capital city Thiruvananthapuram. Though the contractors urged that the giant pipes could be unloaded only with a crane, the workers were demanding a sum of Rs. 30,000 just to watch the pipes being unloaded.

The lorry arrived from Namakkal in Tamil Nadu on Friday morning with 10 giant pipes to drain the water from the creek during the construction of the road to the elephant sanctuary included in Kifby. Hundreds of workers from various unions in the area rushed to the spot. The contractors said they were crane-only pipes and did not require workers, but they refused.

According to a representative of the company, the workers said that they need Rs 30,000 and if not, it cannot be unloaded. In the end, the contractor’s representative said that they would pay Rs 25000 but the workers were adamant that they would not back down without getting Rs 30,000. Sherin, a contractor’s representative and site engineer, said there was also a risk of losing money on the rental item of the lorry, which must be returned within seven hours of arriving at the site.

But the responding to media, CITU, communist trade union leaders said that they were ‘unaware’ of the issue. NokkuKooli or gawking wage is a euphemism for extortion by labour unions in Kerala under which wages have to be paid to workers for loading works done by other workers or by machines. Hundreds of incidents are reported where even for small household items, though the owner willing to unload by themselves, labour union leaders demand a huge sum of money.

Meanwhile, CPI(M)-led LDF government earlier claimed that they have banned the obsolete ‘Nokku Kooli’ practise used by headload workers to extract exorbitant wages without doing any work.