Penkoottu launches indefinite strike

For the rule of law: Activists of Asanghadita Meghala Thozhilali Union meeting Regional Joint Labour Commissioner K.M. Sunil in Kozhikode on Wednesday.

For the rule of law: Activists of Asanghadita Meghala Thozhilali Union meeting Regional Joint Labour Commissioner K.M. Sunil in Kozhikode on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: S_RAMESHKURUP

Textile showroom management accused of not allowing saleswomen to sit

The Asanghadita Meghala Thozhilali Union (AMTU), better known as Penkoottu, has launched an indefinite sit-in at the showroom of a major textile network in Kozhikode after the management refused to clarify on the dismissal of a few sales women recently.

AMTU secreary P.Viji told The Hindu here on Wednesday that the management had been violating the recent amendments made in the Kerala Shops and Establishments Act by not allowing the saleswomen to sit, by refusing them breaks and forcing them to work in unhygienic circumstances.

A few sales women who were expelled from the showroom claimed that the management bypassed the rule that insisted on providing seating arrangements for the staff by taking action agaisnt the employees if they dared to sit. They said that they were not informed that they were hired only for the season. Also they were made to work in the company’s warehouse, which was not in their job description.

“We were to sort out 19-year-old stock of clothes. There was a lot of dust and many left the job due to allergy. When we asked for a mask, we were expelled,” one of the saleswomen said upon condition of anonymity.

Ms. Viji said that the owner of the showroom refused to meet the expelled employees on repeated efforts and even after he was informed of the AMTU’s visit two days in advance. A few members of the union started the sit-in at 3 p.m. on Wednesday and continued till the showroom closed. “We will not leave without meeting the owner of the establishment. He has to explain why these women were expelled,” she said.

Meanwhile, the saleswomen said that the management would be prevented from conducting further interviews and replacing the expelled employees.

The AMTU is demanding the management to follow the rule and allow the employees to sit during intervals and to provide them their rightful breaks. There is also a demand for equal pay for equal job, which the saleswomen say, they were missing.

The new agitation by Penkoottu comes 10 years after it launched its first protest demanding the right to sit of women labourers at S.M. Street.

Complaint filed

The activists of AMTU and aggrieved sales women met Regional Joint Labour Commissioner K.M. Sunil and District Labour Officer (Enforcement) V.P. Rajan on Wednesday. They filed a complaint against four major textile outlets in the city that were violating the latest amendments in the Kerala Shops and Establishments Act. Mr. Sunil assured them that the issue would be solved in a month.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 6:43:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/penkoottu-launches-indefinite-strike/article29903287.ece

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