Nokku Kooli (gawking charges) In Kerala Stopped By Government – On Labour Day, a notorious practice in Kerala called nokku kooli — or gawking charges, essentially payment for doing nothing Is Ceased By Government .
What is Nokku kooli?
- Nokku kooli is a type of wage meant for workers overseeing the work of fellow workers.
- This practice has been widespread among the head-load workers who are basically labourers involved in
loading and unloading activities.
- A Registered head-load worker demands Nokku kooli for either doing the loading or unloading work himself
or when he gets the job done though his own worker.
- Various laws were also enacted to ensure the rights of working to carry loads for loading and unloading were
Headload workers can collect nokku kooli in two ways
- First, when a person loads or unloads articles oneself, or deploys one’s own workers to do so, registered headload workers demand nokku kooli.
- Otherwise, headload workers extort a sum from construction or other sites where machines move heavy objects. They would obstruct such work on grounds of being denied work.
In recent years, the growth of infrastructure and realty projects has allowed headload workers to earn huge amounts as nokku kooli. On the flip side, the decline of some markets and changes in the way products are packaged have led to dwindling of work for headload workers. At present, Kerala has about 2 lakh headload workers, with 70% of them affiliated to CPM-led CITU.
What was the reason behind Kerala‟s recent decision?
- Nokku kooli became a notorious practice of demanding wages for just simply seeing the work as it was easy to
appoint a worker to do the job.
- Head-load workers also started exhorting huge sums from construction sites where machines move heavy
objects, on the grounds of denying their right to work.
- In recent years, the growth of infrastructure and other reality projects has allowed head-load workers to earn
huge amounts as Nokku kooli.
- But all this is due to decline in the actual work for head-load workers as markets and packaging methods have
What are the implications of this move?
- The factory owners or builders will be free from the pressures by the trade unions to pay Nokku kooli to the
workers and also from disruption in construction work.
- But for the head-load workers, this will affect them badly as they are dependent on Nokku kooli for their
- They will suffer as they don‘t have any alternate ways to earn their livelihood.
What laws Says about This Nokku Kooli
- The Kerala Headload Workers Act, 1978, was enacted to regulate their employment and provide for their welfare and settlement of disputes.
- Later, the Kerala Loading and Unloading (Regulation of Wages and Restriction of Unlawful Practices) Act was enacted in 2002.
- It gives employers the right to carry out loading and unloading work for non-domestic purposes either themselves or by employing workers of their choice at specified sites.
- Yet extortion in the name of nokku kooli continued, mostly by workers affiliated to CITU and Congress-led INTUC.
In recent years, several court orders have sought to ban the practice. In December 2016, Kerala High Court had observed, “It is also a matter of experience in the High Court that hundreds of writ petitions are being filed every year complaining of obstruction to loading and unloading activities as well as manhandling of employers on the ground that the employers were not willing to pay nokkukooli.’’