The Leftist workers' unions demand 'protection money' from every business establishment in Kerala for carrying out business activity. For loading/unloading of cargo, they demand 'gawking charges'.
An NDTV journalist, Jasmine Jose tweeted that CITU members were not allowing the offloading of a truck carrying material for her brother's business establishment. She also posted a video of the CITU members creating a ruckus.
"Despite High Court order, CITU members are blocking the unloading of products and is threatening my family, we run a local business in Pathanamthitta in Kerala. My brother's life has been threatened. Really scary situation with the current political scenario in the state", she posted on Saturday (January 8) evening.
Communist leader and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan started his second consecutive term in April last year. Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) is a leftist trade union with a very powerful presence in Kerala. Communist leader K Hemalata is the president, and another Communist leader, Tapan Sen is the general secretary of CITU.
In Kerala, this 'protection money' is called 'nokkukooli', which means 'gawking wages', a practice in which head loaders charge money for 'gawking' or staring at people loading or unloading the cargo. In a judgment on September 3 last year, the Kerala High Court asked the Pinarayi Vijayan government to ban the practice. "The practice of 'nokkukooli' is damaging the image of Kerala. It should be eradicated. It gives out wrong perceptions about the state. Meanwhile, the rights of the headload workers should also be protected," the Court had said. In an executive order on May 1, 2018, the Kerala govt had outlawed the practice, but no effort was made to implement the order.
On September 4 last year, this illegal and unethical practice again came to the limelight after the labour unions demanded 'gawking charges' at the ISRO facility in Kerala. They did not allow the offloading without payment of 'gawking charges'.