Lorry owners to go ahead with agitation

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Kozhikode, Oct 22 (UNI) Ignoring the government's appeal, the Kerala State Lorry Owners Federation (KSLOF) expressed its resolve to continue the on-going agitation, which entered the fourth day today.

''We are prepared for talks'' to resolve the crisis created by the agitation demanding more time to settle welfare fund dues and tax, but the government has taken an adamant attitude towards the issue, KSLOF Secretary K K Hazma told UNI.

Countering the government's claim that cent per cent employees were against the stir, he said ''it is not true'' as 75 per cent of goods vehicles were owned by the workers themselves.

On the possibility of impounding vehicles by the government agencies if they went ahead with the stir, he said ''we are prepared to surrender'' the vehicles if they desired so, for the service of people.

He said the organisation had convened a meeting of office bearers to discuss the issue.

Rejecting any further discussion with the operators, State Labour Minister P K Gurudasan urged them to call off the agitation to avoid hardships to people.

Talking to newspersons after a meeting with representatives of employees union, the Minister said their demands were not justifiable as they were required to pay a small amount as welfare fund dues comparatively.

A goods vehicle owner had to pay only Rs 400 for two employees per month as aginst Rs 350 per employee paid by a bus operator in the state. Besides they were given enough time to clear 27 months arrears, he said.

Representives of major trade unions, including CITU, INTUC, HMS and UTUC, who participated in the meeting, had extended full support to the government on the issue, he claimed.

On the reported move to impound the goods vehicles with the support of employees, he said ''let us see the operators response.'' State Transport Minister Mathew T Thomas and Industry Minister Elamaram Kareem also participated in the talks held at the government guest house here.

UNI

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