Business Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Dec 13, 2006
States - Kerala
Ministers review clean-up efforts at Kochi port
`The new system will fully protect workers' interests and ensure that their wages and benefits are fully protected.'
Kochi , Dec. 12
The State Ministers for Labour and Industries met at the Cochin Port Trust to review the progress made in implementing the decisions taken to end forcible and unauthorised collection of money and some other unhealthy practices in cargo transportation at the port.
It was also decided at the meeting that only workers registered with the Kerala Head Load Workers Welfare Board would be permitted to work within the port area with effect from January 1, 2007.
The meeting also stipulated that all head load workers currently employed in various cargo handling operations under the port should be registered expeditiously, for which the Labour Department would take immediate action. The Labour Minister will formally inaugurate the scheme on December 31 at the port.
So far, 695 workers and 169 employers have registered at the Welfare Board office. Totally 2,347 workers have applied for the 26A card, which will make them eligible for registration with the Board. Action is being taken to issue the registration cards.
It was also noted at the meeting that certain quarters were trying to spread misinformation that the reforms would adversely impact workers. The new system will fully protect workers' interests and ensure that their wages and benefits are fully protected. There will in fact be further improvements in wages and benefits, the Ministers said.
The Labour Minister, Mr P.K. Gurudasan, and the Industries Minister, Mr Elamaram Kareem, said that the State Government had extended full support to the port management's efforts in curbing all illegal practices at the port.
The Ministers noted that certain forces were attempting to resort to subversions and thwart the reforms initiated recently. Police have been instructed to take stringent action against wrongdoers and to enforce the rule of law.
Ever since the decisions were taken at the meeting held in November, all forcible and unauthorised collection of money has completely stopped. There is also freedom to hire lorries and trailers at competitive prices.
Forcible collection of money in the name of kettukooli (tying charges), kavadam kadathu kooli (entry charges), nokku kooli (looking charges), atti kooli (stacking charges) for bulk cargo and so on have been stopped completely. Police force is deployed in Willingdon Island in large numbers and full protection provided to traders.
In an attempt to protect the interests of labour and prevent exploitation by unscrupulous elements, it had been decided in November that all labour bookings would be done through the Kerala Head Load Workers Welfare Board.
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