Lorry strike cripples goods traffic, trading in Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 20 (UNI) Movement of goods in Kerala continues to be affected for the second consecutive day today, following the indefinite strike by lorry owners associations.

Most of the markets witnessed heavy rush in view of Pooja celebrations. Despite the strike, the traders said they were able to maintain the price tag. Almost all trading came to a standstill with no commodities coming in.

Traders in the busy Chala market here said the supplies were low and if the strike continued, there was a possibility of increase in prices.

A report from Kozhikode said goods movement across Malabar region continued to be disrupted. Traders at Palayam and Valiyangadi, the main trade centres in Kozhikode, said supply of essential commodities, fruit and vegetables had stopped almost completely.

Accusing the government of ''failure'' to take any measures to end the crisis, Kerala State Lorry Owners' Federation (KSLOF) secretary K K Hamza said it would go ahead with the agitation demanding more time to settle welfare fund dues and tax remission.

Regarding rumours about the proposed move by the government to impound lorries owned by the operators, he said ''we are prepared to surrender our fleet if they desired,'' as the organisation was against any confrontation with the authorities on the issue.

Meanwhile, State Labour Minister P K Gurudasan has convened a meeting of lorry employees union representatives in Kozhikode on October 22 to discuss the issue, reports said.

All goods carriers, except the container lorries, had joined the strike. The Tanker lorry owners said they would join the strike if the government did not consider the demands of the lorry owners.

The Lorry owners had called the strike demanding more time to remit the welfare fund contribution. The operators said they wanted a reduction in monthly contribution towards the workers' welfare fund in view of the increase in the operational costs.

Reports from Kochi said the strike had not affected the functioning of the port since the container lorries kept off the strike. The container lorry operators had decided against joining the strike, considering the prevailing circumstances.

UNI

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