Kerala to amend headload workers act; Demanding 'Nokkukooli' may invite 2 yrs jail, Rs 1 lakh fine

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Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government is all set to amend the law against 'Nokkukooli' (gawking wages) after the CPM state conference took a strong position on the practice that brings shame to the state.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reiterated that 'Nokkukooli' has to end. His previous government had banned the practice in 2018. However, the ban was not effective to put an immediate end to the decades-long 'ritual'.

Kerala Headload Workers Act of 1978 will be amended to add two years of imprisonment and a fine up to Rs 1 lakh if anyone demands 'Nokkukooli'. Even though the amendment is less likely to be introduced in the ongoing session of the Assembly, it will not be delayed indefinitely, labour minister V Sivankutty told Mathrubhumi.

Unregistered workers claiming the right to do loading-unloading works will also fall under the definition of 'Nokkukooli'. Besides, demanding more amount than the normal rate will also be made punishable.

The law will also penalise threatening someone for high wage. Abusing the job provider, causing ruckus after consuming alcohol will also be brought under the purview of the act.

The Kerala Headload Workers Welfare Board will decide the wage for each work. A worker can register for two years to work as a head loader. To renew this, he has to prove that this is his major means of income. The job title will be changed to 'loading and unloading worker'. The workers will be trained for handling sensitive items.

A deputy labour officer can suspend and revoke the registration of a worker. The new amendment makes workers liable to pay for any losses that occurs at the work place.

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