Kerala moots new labour policy for ease of business

Many investors continue to balk at investing in the state owing to the legacy of Kerala’s labour strikes and protests that have hurt industries in the past

Thiruvananthapuram: The Communist Party of India Marxist-led Left Democratic Front government in Kerala is giving final shape to a new labour policy, with an eye on attracting investments by ensuring an easier environment for businesses.


Many investors continue to balk at investing in the state owing to the legacy of Kerala’s labour strikes and protests that have hurt industries in the past.

Ahead of launching the new policy, the state government had recently clamped down on the “nokku kooli” or gawking fee. This was a fee that some workers extracted from individuals and businessmen for merely looking at the work going on at a work site, claiming that they ought to be paid for the work that was done by others or by machines.

In another move, state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan recently called to shield the tourism industry against flash strikes that crippled normal life in the state and affected tourists.

The new policy, which was approved by the state cabinet this week, is aimed at making the state more employee and industry friendly while ensuring social security and decent remuneration to all workers.

The new policy also proposes strong action against “unhealthy practices” in the employment sector.

Kerala’s employment scenario presents an ironic picture, with both employers and employees having their grouses against each other. While employers complain about worker militancy, absenteeism and a lack of work culture among employees, the workers say that they are not paid mandatory benefits and are even denied basic rights like the freedom to sit during working hours.

The new labour policy aims to offer solutions to these complaints, and has proposed to strengthen employer-employee relations to avoid labour disputes, and a labour bank to protect the jobs and interests of domestic workers.

Implementing women-friendly measures is also a key theme of the proposed new labour policy.

However, there is scepticism regarding effective implementation of the new policy. The fear is that the government may not be able to ensure that the provisions of the policy are adhered to by the employers and the employees.

In an ongoing example which raises that fear, private hospital managements have continued to deny their nursing staff the minimum monthly salary of Rs20,000 (Dh1,085) that the government has directed them to pay.

As a result, nurses under the banner of the United Nurses’ Association are continuing their agitation to get the hospital managements to adhere to the directive given by the state government.

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