Trade union trouble: Kerala manufacturer moves court


Kochi : Militant trade unionism seems to be raising its head in Kerala once again, with a manufacturer Friday approaching the state high court and also threatening to move out of the state after persisting problems with unloading goods.

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“We have approached the high court seeking its intervention in the matter,” said Sheila Kochuouseph, who runs the V-Star Creations, a leading export oriented textile manufacturer of undergarments.

A trade union led by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), backed by the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), has been preventing the unloading of products at a storehouse of V-Star near here for sometime.

Kochuouseph Chittilapally, husband of Sheila Kochuouseph, shocked trade union activists when he got on to a lorry and started unloading cartons that came into the rented storehouse Wednesday.

This led to a tiff between employees at all the units owned by Kochuouseph and trade union workers, forcing police to arrive at the scene.

Kochuouseph, who owns a string of businesses, including the popular V-Guard stabilisers and the first amusement park in the state, Vega Land, besides a cable factory, is one of the highest tax payers in the state.

Sheila, who runs V-Star Creations, said if things go on like this, they will have to think of other ways and might even move their unit to nearby Coimbatore, where they have set up a successful cable factory.

“This impasse has been continuing for the past six months and these militant trade union workers continuously abuse our employees and my family. We have 11 loaders who have got the labour card for unloading, but the trade union activists do not allow them to do their job. Is this fair and does it send good signals to prospective investors?” asked Sheila.

V-Star Creations has 20 units in the state where 1,500 employees work. It was set up in 1995 and in the last fiscal the firm’s total turnover touched Rs.22 crore. This fiscal, it is expecting a 50 percent growth. Around 20 percent of the firm’s products are exported.

However, veteran CITU leader M.M. Lawerence seemed unmoved by the owner unloading goods himself.

“That is good because let him know that unloading is not an easy job and now that he has unloaded, he should see that he does not fall sick because of the hard labour,” Lawerence said.

The incident comes at a time when across the state trade union activists levy “nokku kooli” – which sees wages being paid to trade union members for simply watching materials being unloaded by workers.