Kerala trade unions have mellowed, but the message hasn’t spread wide

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Kochi: Kerala’s trade unions have become far less combative in recent times, but a lingering perception about their militancy continues to leave a section of investors concerned about starting business in the State, the US Country Session at Emerging Kerala noted today.

The situation on the labour front has changed for the good, but not the mindset of some entrepreneurs outside Kerala, according to speakers at the session themed “Doing Business with USA” which was held as part of the three-day global investors’ meet in the state’s commercial capital.

As for hartals – as general strikes are called in Kerala and many other states – the management of companies can ensure normal attendance by escorting employees to office early, pointed out Ramkumar Ramamoorthy, Senior Vice President (India) of Cognizant Technology Solutions. Our business in Kochi, has flourished over the years.

Ramamoorthy’s explanation found backing from a Malayali officer known for his close association with the International Labour Organisation. M P Joseph, who was chief technical adviser with the UN body, said labour unions in Kerala have of late started realising the need to strike a rapport with the management –  a fact that the outside world needs to be aware of.

Ramamoorthy called for the need to facilitate better osmosis between industry and educational institutions to improve the curriculum for students pursuing higher education in various technical institutions in the country.

Earlier, US Principal Commercial Officer (South India) James Golsen and Michael Cathey of the United States Consulate in Chennai addressed the gathering, giving briefs about the various kinds of visas issued by their office and the procedures involved in their processing. The fourth speaker at the session was Dinesh Morris, Regional Sales Manager of leading logistics company FedEx.

Ramamoorthy said New Jersey-based Cognizant, which has 2,000 professionals in Kochi, has grown over the years owing to three reasons. “One is the encouraging support from the (Kerala) government. We have found that the authorities are speedy in their decisions,” he noted. “Two, the state has abundant talent. The people here follow exemplary work ethics. They have good entrepreneurial spirit, a mentality to experiment and innovate. No wonder the rate of attrition in Kochi is among the least in our centres world-wide.”

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