Trade Union Coordination Committee — representing around 3,000 workers manning nearly 1,900 container carrier lorries in the container terminal in Kochi — is going ahead with its an indefinite strike plan from September 4.
This is in protest against the alleged “failure” of lorry owners to implement the bata recommended by the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) for workers.
The coordination committee also demanded that bonuses for workers be disbursed before Onam. Committee leaders Charles George and P.S. Ashique said their demands had been conveyed to the State Labour Commissioner.
Lorry workers’ leaders alleged that for a long time the rental rates and bata payments were on the basis of rates declared by lorry owners. At the same time, the renewed payment agreement of 2016 had not been implemented. Lorry owners fix rental rates low and since lorry workers are paid on the basis of the lorry rates, they are getting below-par payments. Though tripartite agreements have been reached from time to time before Labour department officials, the agreements have continued to remain on paper.
NATPAC had recommended unified lorry rates and bata payments. The Labour department had also directed NATPAC to study the situation and submit a report. The report was submitted in 2018. The report was agreed upon at a meeting convened by the Chief Minister in August 2018. The State government had also issued an order in May 2023 to implement bata payment.
The Labour Commissioner convened a meeting on May 16, and it was agreed at the tripartite meeting that the NATPAC-recommended bata would be implemented from June 1. Despite the agreement, the government order had not been implemented even after three months, coordination committee leaders said.