KOCHI:A new labour movement, which aims at building its base among the inter-state migrant workers, is sprouting in the state where a galaxy of trade unions fight it out for their rights. And eco-preservation and gender justice are central to its ideological moorings.
If Kerala is known for grooming fierce trade unionists like Rajan Nair of TELCO Kamgar Union, who took on the TATA at the Pune plant of the firm in the late 1980s, nearly three decades after, a new trade union, Sramik Nyay Sanghatan (SNS) or Labour Justice Movement is set to lend its voice for the legitimate demand for equal wages and labour rights of internal migrants who include men, women and people belonging to the third gender in the state, which they call the ‘Gulf of India.’
Instead of choosing role models from the state, where there is no dearth of such people, the SNS draws inspiration from the legacy of Shankar Guha Niyogi, who was murdered for organising the mine workers of Chhattisgarh. The new movement is taking concrete shape even as the trade unions remain hesitant to actively involve in the issues of them, including their rights as made mandatory by the Inter-state Migrant Worker (Regulation and Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979.
“The SNS plans to organise the 25 lakh-strong labourers from other states and also looks to make inroads into the issues of an equally strong unskilled labourer force, who immensely contribute to the economy,” said N P Johnson, one of the main organisers of the movement.