Women workers call off night protest


Penkal Otrumai called off their night protest plans on Thursday after the police briefed them that it would be risky.

Penkal Otrumai, the collective of women plantation workers of Munnar, which has invited the wrath of trade unions for shunning them to launch their own separate agitation for a wage hike, called off their night protest plans on Thursday after the police briefed them that it would be risky.

Irate trade unionists, who are holding their own protests in the town, had attempted to stone the women on Wednesday after the workers spurned their bids to rope them into their agitation. The women, who came prepared to stay at Munnar junction during the night, went home in the evening to resume their agitation on Friday morning, though their original plan was to fast till morning.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Merin Joseph said the police were willing to give protection to the women at night as there were sufficient personnel deployed at Munnar. “But it was also the responsibility of the police to brief protestors about the risk involved in staying out late in the night in the open,” she said, adding that if any untoward incidents took place in the night, the tension would escalate. It was a precautionary step adopted by the police, leaving the final decision to women, said Ms. Joseph.

During the day, in a show of strength, hundreds of women workers gathered at Munnar junction, squatting on the rain-sodden ground, shouting slogans against all the three trade unions, who they alleged had deceived them. A large number of men workers stood near the protestors, chorusing the slogans. “We had had enough from the trade union leaders. There is no question of joining their agitation. We will go alone,” said Lissy Sunny, one of the leaders.

At the same time, around 400 workers affiliated to the trade unions assembled at one end of the bridge at the junction and stayed on till evening. Trade union leaders including A.K. Mony of INTUC, S. Rajendran, MLA, of CITU, and P. Palanivel of AITUC, camped at the venue of the agitation from morning.

M.M. Mani, CPI (M) State secretariat member, alleged that the women workers were helping the plantation owners by keeping away from the agitation launched by the trade unions. The collective bargaining power of the workers would be reduced significantly when groups resorted to separate agitations, he said.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 8:54:41 PM |

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