ALAPPUZHA: Houseboat owners rejected the new salary proposals submitted by Kerala House Boat and Resort Workers Union (CITU), a major labour union in the backwater tourism sector having as many as 3,000 members. The employees came up with the proposal at a time when their 27-month contract is about to be renewed by April. The proposal submitted last week suggests at least Rs 15,000 as fixed salary and Rs 375 as bata for each employee. It is a phenomenal increase from the present Rs 10,400 and Rs 250 respectively from April. Sources within the houseboat industry told this newspaper that the owners rejected their proposal and sent an official letter to the Workers Union citing helplessness in approving the proposal at this point in time.
“The houseboat owners said in the rejection letter that the salary hike will only be discussed by March 2019 since the industry was grappling with the recent Central government’s financial reforms including Goods and Service Act (GST) and demonetisation,” said the sources. It was in 2014 the employees got a salary hike from Rs 6,850 to Rs 10,400 following the intervention of district administration and then tourism minister A.P. Anilkumar.
P.K. Sajeev Kumar, general secretary of the workers union said that they would not budge. “It’s unacceptable. Employees can’t afford food with the salary fixed four years ago. We know there are issues that affect the industry. However, the houseboat owners should look into concerns of employees. We submitted the proposal after understanding all issues that affect the industry,” he said.
Confirming rejection of notice from houseboat owners, Mr Kumar said the houseboat owners had history of rejecting the proposal whenever employees raise the matter of salary hike. “We know what steps to take to ensure they implement our proposals,” the union leader said. Apart from hike in salary and bata, the Workers Union have demanded 10-day leave every month and insurance coverage ranging from Rs 3lakh to 5lakh. As per the Inland Vessels Act, 2010 each cruise houseboat has to have at least three workers — two lascars, one syrang. As many as 1,200 houseboats are currently plying on the Vembanad Lake. But half of them are operating without proper registration and pollution certificates....