Kerala Labour Movement Diocesan System Building

Kerala Labour Movement (KLM) is the network of different diocesan labour movements conglomerated under KCBC Labour commission and registered as a civil society organization and therefore it strives to improve the functioning of the diocesan set up of KLM through varied programs and support mechanisms.

The Diocesan system is operated under a Director appointed by the Bishop and an elected body from members officially enrolled in the system. The state committee is elected from these diocesan leaders and now represents all the 31 dioceses in KERALA. The state operational area of KLM is divided into five zones for an easy access and efficient effectiveness of the activities designed for the ordinary people in all levels. These zones are Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Malabar and for each zone a Zonal Director has been appointed by th Labour Commission. Zonal level planning, programme implementation, monitoring and evaluation are the tasks entrusted to zonal system.

Every diocese has its forane and parish level units and committees to actualize the strategies of KLM and to design their own initiatives in the grassroots level. A unit may be the federation of workers' SHGs and Forums or just a parish unit.

The KLM committee consists of General Body and Executive committee elected from the experienced and active leaders.

Labour Forums

Animation and Awareness Generation actualized through KLM would essentially lead to the clustering of the disadvantaged sections among the unorganized labour folk and thereby different labour fora will be organized in the grassroots. The labour forums thus generated eventually get registered as the trade unions to amass their bargain power and to negotiate with all the stakeholders to ensure their rights.

KLM at present initiated eight State level forums as a tangible result of its functioning in grassroots and even organized the village level committees in every revenue districts in Kerala. The KLM has got amble opportunity for legal intervention in the labour sectors in the state through the activities of Trade Unions. All the Trade Unions initiated by KLM have come under an umbrella called Unorganized Workers' Trade Unions Alliance (UTA) so that the bargaining capacity is multiplied.

The forums provide to the members the training in value added job opportunities, conduct leaders training camps and planning meetings. The state committee will monitor and audit the activities of the district and village or unit level committees. The following are the Trade unions initiated and come under the UTA:

  • Construction Workers Forum (Swathanthra Nirmaana Thozhilaly Union) (SNTU) is the first of this sort registered under the trade union act As a result the committees in all levels were elected in all districts and have started working for the empowerment of the construction workers.
  • Kerala Tailoring Workers Forum (KTWF) was the second registered forum under trade union act by KLM to empower and to enhance the skill of the tailoring workers, embroidery workers and self employed tailors in Kerala. KTWF also ensure social security of the members of the forum and their family and enroll them in the welfare fund of the State Government. It conducts seminars and camps to raise awareness and to empower it arranges finishing schools in different areas of Kerala. This forum (TU) has district and village committees and able leaders.
  • Kerala Cherukida Thottam Thozhilaly Forum (KCTTF). Small plantation (Cherukida Thottam) means an area of five hectors where planted any of the plants such as rubber, tea, coffee, cardamom, coco, oil palm, cashew and where one or more workers are appointed. All the workers of any sort whether contract, daily wage, honorary, temporary come under this act. Those self employed in their own land not more than half hector are also considered to be small scale plantation worker. KCTTF is a forum initiated by KLM registered under the trade union act to stand for the social security, empowerment and integral development of these workers and elf employed. This forum helps those persons who take membership in this forum to enroll in the welfare fund of the Govt. of Kerala so that they can be secured. At present the forum after its registration in 2012 under the TU Act it is active in some of the Districts villages. There are committees in all levels
  • Kerala Domestic Workers Forum (KDWF) is one of the most important one among the unorganized workers trade unions because it tries to empower the most vulnerable in the society. They are not socially and politically sound and the domestic workers and their family are not secure. They are unorganized and totally marginalized and thus voiceless, embarrassed and have no leadership or good governance. The government listed this job in the minimum wages just this year and they do not have organs to monitor this. The welfare board is not properly functioning and is not processing the applications of the workers for immediate benefits. It is in this background the KDWF starts its work among the domestic workers. It has a great role as a trade union other than any organization to stand in front of them to fight for the dignity. It is their task to empower them to raise awareness of their threat and weakness and to address it. The KTWF has started first of all SHGs and then enrolled them be the members of the forum.
  • Kerala Agricultural Workers Forum (KAWF) initiated by KLM and has started its functioning from Changanassery. It was registered under Trade union Act and has its state committee and it is conducting district programmes for its developments and spreading. If we consider the total workforce in Kerala the majority will be agricultural workers and they have no much welfare security measures. There are a number of trade unions in this field but the majority of these workers are out of the main stream. Since the agricultural workers have no education and such qualification they do not know about their security projects. The forum mainly focused on the development of the agricultural workers and self employed in this sector. These persons are always attracted by the local Governments' old age pensions though it has only a minimum sum. The do not know and not have capacity to bargain for the further benefits and security measures which should be implemented by the State Government. This forum stands for a better scheme and raise public opinion on this issue. This forum thus started to get the workers and self employed together to empower them and to develop their capacity.
  • Kerala Motor Transport Workers' Forum (KMTWF). One of the most vulnerable group, unstable in the field and scattered in the unorganized sector is the motor transport workers. The major political parties started trade unions for them but did not have further activities on integral policy for their development. They have no collective achievements or not having feeling of oneness to reach a common goal, they are always cheated. Though there was a nominal form of welfare fund until 2008 it was not benefitted to the workers. Later it was reconstituted but there are chances to cheat the workers due to the weaker governance. Even the leaders of the trade unions misinterpret the functioning of the fund and many workers lost the final chance to enroll in to the fund. Today also there are problems and weakness to be addressed, corrected and properly administered. It was in this background the forum, Kerala Motor Transport Workers' Forum (KMTWF) started at Thrissur and later developed to the other Districts of Kerala to work for the welfare and empowerment of the motor transport workers. It was registered under the trade union act in the year 2013 and it is now in a developing stage. It has to extent its activities to villages also and in grassroots.
  • Kerala Malsya Thozhilali Forum (KMTF) started its activity among the fish workers, one of the weaker and terribly affected groups. The target group is the traditional fish workers in the sea, back waters, ice factory, fish market but not established, self employed. This union is hopeful for the target group because it involved in many social issues and helped them to address their problems within a short period after its registration. It is likely to root in grassroots in Kollam district where it was started and in the neighboring districts. The main problems and issues among fish workers the forum has to address are instability, calamity, scarcity of nutrition, insisting of government policies against the traditional fishing without adequate formation, encroachment of multinational companies and corporate, lack of new technical knowledge, lack of new generation machines and formation, avoidance of government etc. the KMTF takes it as challenges to address these threats the fish workers face in the work place and in life. It conducts awareness programmes, advocacy programmes, leadership training and support, lobbying and networking, raises public opinion, skill development programmes, introducing the new technology to the traditional fish workers as alternatives, wellness camps, etc
  • Kerala Shop Employees Forum (KSEF) is one of the important initiatives for the unorganized by the KLM in the year 2014 - 15. Though some of the diocesan units have started activities for the shop employees these were come into an umbrella in this year only. One of the chief achievements of these diocesan activities is that the welfare board for the shops and establishments of the Govt. of Kerala was started by the government as a result of a survey conducted by a diocese (Trichur). Again the total computerization of the welfare fund is also a result of its follow up. At present some of the dioceses enroll the employees in the welfare fund. It is the task of the KLM to get together all the diocesan activists to operate a state level forum and to motivate them to work together for the welfare of the soundless and oppressed. The self employed shop keepers also can join in this forum. While Govt. opened the retail shopping to multinational corporate it is the task of a trade union to give proper guidance and leadership to both the shop employees and employer. There should have leaders and activists under with the support of trade unions from this sector itself. The KSEF is trying to give formation, raise awareness and public opinion, get together all the activists in this field under an umbrella and empower the employees. KSEF is also developing and monitoring itself to be a pressure group against the drawbacks of the Govt. policies that affect the life of employees and their security.

Women Empowerment

A separate cell lead by an elected group from different areas of Kerala for gender justice in the work settings for the women is organized under the auspices of KLM's women's forum and functional at the Workers' Facilitation Centre at Ernakulam.

Finishing Schools

Finishing Schools are conducted by KLM to improve the technical and soft skills of the unorganized workers and thereby improve their employability of the unorganized workers. KLM has made effective link with different Business corporates to train the unorganized workers. KLM arranges skill development programmes and provides the Government approved certificates.

Workers Facilitation Centres

Regional or Diocesan Workers Facilitation Centres are established to give effective service to the unorganized workers with regard to their placements, HR Services, enrollment in the welfare fund and other social security programs. These centres are also the offices of district and village committees. The state office provides training and supporting methods to the regional centres. This office works as the mediator and thus tries to engulf between the ordinary unorganized workers and authorities.

Social Security programmes

  • Suraksha Programs and Clinics 'KLM Suraksha A' is a social safety net program designed for the employees in the church owned institutions under KCBC. It is a contributory social security scheme that has got Life Insurance Coverage with Superannuation pension scheme attached to it. The premium amount is shared between the employer and employee. The benefits of the government schemes for the unorganized workers are also linked with this program.' KLM Suraksha B' is for unorganized workers. Surakha Clinics are conducted to avail the service of the social security programmes in the village levels.
  • State Welfare Fund The Forum activities under KLM have furthered the possibility for eligible workers to get enrolled in the various labour welfare funds of the state government. These were benefited to many workers and their families in many ways such as pension, accident death benefits, retirement benefits etc.

Keralathile Thozhilali kshemapadhathikal

' Keralathile Thozhilali kshemapadhathikal ' is the resource material published by KLM to help the unorganized workers to avail the benefits of the labour welfare funds of the Kerala Government.

RTF Campaign

Right to Food (RTF) Campaign has been initiated by KLM in the State to ensure the food security of the unorganized workers and the other most disadvantaged sections of the State. It has been implemented with the support of CBCI Justice and Peace Commission. KLM has established good linkages with the Supreme Court commissioner of RTF Schemes in this regard.

Study on the Unorganized Workers in Kerala

'A Study on the Unorganized Workers in Kerala', based on the data of the district of Ernakulam which, was initiated in 2009 was completed in 2012. Widely welcomed authentic study was released by the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Kerala. Malayalam edition of the study was published in 2013. These editions are available in state libraries and other book shops.

People Management Policy

KLM was entrusted to prepare the people management policy for the various institutions run by the Catholic Church in Kerala. The same was promulgated in October 2013. KLM will co ordinate the implementation of the same. It outlines the system for the state level implementation and monitoring through information dissemination programmes and capacity building programmes like training for the management regarding rules and regulations and new additions by the Governments and training for the workers regarding their duties and responsibilities. It provides models of forums and supporting documents and guidelines to be followed in the subjects like recruitment, wages and service conditions, performance management, training, social security and grievance handling.

Social Campaign for the Unorganized Workers

  • May Day Message The first May Day message was circulated in Kerala Church in 1978. International Workers Day was celebrated in diocesan level with varied programs. Seminars, Public Meetings, Rallies etc. were conducted. May Day message published by the Chairman of Labour commission was read out in parish churches and institutions.
  • Interactions on social issues Meetings at various places were conducted by workers Forums to invite the immediate attention of state Government about the crucial issues faced by the workers including price hike and inefficient functioning of welfare fund. Memorandums and resolutions were submitted before government of Kerala about the various problems of workers and workers’ welfare funds. So also to the Govt. of India about the issues of pension scheme and other suraksha programmes

Zonal or Diocesan planning and study camps

KLM effectively reaches its vision to the grassroots by providing training and participating the zonal and diocesan leaders in all activities. It includes leadership training, welfare and security development programmes and capacity building programmes. The continuous formation giving priority to the labour issues for the priests and nuns is also included.

Networking and Lobbying

KLM is a partner organization (regional association) of Workers India Federation, the national level network of labour movements under Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) office for labour. KLM also is networking with Labour Ministry of Kerala Govt, Women's commission of the Govt. of Kerala. Participating the leaders and members of Forums of KLM in the programmes of Hind Mazudur Sangh a national level trade union KLM initiates more opportunities to the unorganized workers in the Kerala State. KLM advocates with Government to implement effectively in the State the central legislation, "The Unorganized Workers Welfare and Social Security Act 2008".

Forum for Principals & Management of Private Catholic ITIs

As per the guidance of KCBC, KLM animated and supported the formation of the Catholic Industrial Training Institutes Management Association - Kerala. Now it has become an independent organization with separate registration. KLM is collaborating with the organization.

Forum for Migrant Workers From Other States in Kerala

According to the State Government there are about thirty lakhs migrant workers from other states in different areas of Kerala engaging in skilled works even in Kerala's traditional works. With them their culture and social customs also migrated to Kerala. From the very beginning of the early migration their living conditions are very poor. There were no Govt. Machinery to monitor their conditions and no agents to provide social security. Later the Govt.initiated a welfare fund and a started to register them in the Govt. systems. From the very beginning of this migration and the initiatives by the Govt. KLM was engaged in enrolling them in welfare fund and asking the Govt. to start easy arrangements for them since they play an important role in the development of the State. KLM opened to them all the facilitation centres in all districts and appointed committees to engage among them for their decent living. KLM included their problems in its ' Study on the Unorganized Workers in Kerala ' and raised public awareness against their poor social conditions in Kerala.

KLM with the help of the national workers movement, WIF, started the help desks in our facilitation centers to help the migrants in danger and in need.We have networking with other regional and national centres that are engaging with these matters. We provide pastoral, social and spiritual care for them.