Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Lorry and contract carriage owners who had threatened to go on strike from Sunday midnight in protest against the directive on payment of dues to the Motor Workers' Welfare Fund along with the road tax have withdrawn the strike plan following discussions with Labour Commissioner A. J. Rajan.

At the talks it was decided that the Fund Board would meet immediately to discuss the points raised by the owners, Mr. Rajan said. However, since the model code of conduct for polls is in force any decision on the matter will be announced only after the elections. Therefore, it was decided to maintain status quo on the issue of payments for one month, he added.

The Labour Department had issued an order directing that taxes would be collected from vehicle owners from April 1 this year only if they paid double the amount as their contribution to the Welfare Fund. Under the order, owners failing to remit the taxes would have found it difficult to operate their vehicles after the grace period is over.

The quantum of the contribution had been a contentious issue for some time now.

At a meeting attended by Labour Minister Babu Divakaran in August last year, the Government had agreed to reduce the rate of the owner's contribution to the Welfare Fund from Rs.350 to Rs.200 an employee a month. It was also proposed that the contributions would not have to be paid in advance.

The unions of contract carriages, truck, lorry operators are saying that the Labour Department had issued the latest order in contravention of the agreement reached during the talks with the Minister.