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Kerala Houseboat Employees are on Strike from June 18th 2012 (20 Jun 2012)

Houseboat workers continue strike demanding increased wages

STAFF REPORTER

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still waters:Houseboats lying idle at the Government Boat Jetty, Kumarakom, as the workers have been on strike for the past four days.— Photo: special arrangement
still waters:Houseboats lying idle at the Government Boat Jetty, Kumarakom, as the workers have been on strike for the past four days.— Photo: special arrangement

Crucial talks between trade union leaders and the Kumarakom House Boat Owners' Association scheduled for Sunday will decide the fate of monsoon tourism in Kumarakom this season.

A section of houseboat employees have been on strike for the past four days demanding interim wages till their two year contract expires on July 31. The association, however, has maintained that they were ready to commence negotiations with authorised unions immediately so that a new contract could be concluded on time.

The striking employees, mostly from those the boats operating from the government boat jetty, Kumarakom, have so far refused to oblige with the result that the boats operating from the government jetty had to cease services to their clients, mainly from North India, who have thronged the district to experience the monsoon.

The association members, numbering 93 who together own nearly 120 boats, have decided to stop their services if Sunday's talks fall through.

Interim wage

Said Shinoj, secretary of the association: “The striking workers are not affiliated to any of the authorised unions and so, we have decided to commence talks with the union, the present one, affiliated to CITU.”

The striking workers said that they were getting Rs.4,500 per month plus a daily batta of Rs.125. They wanted this to be increased to Rs.6,000 and Rs.150 as interim wage and batta till a new contract was concluded.

The owners, meanwhile, are getting ready to redirect their clients to nearby destinations for experiencing the monsoon.

While the monsoon had been the off season till recently, the marketing of monsoon tourism and ayurveda has brought buoyancy to this season. More than 25 per cent of the revenue comes from monsoon tourism for most of the operators, association leaders said.