Kerala's pro-market initiatives hit roadblock due to trade unions
Caveat Emporium, the Latin phrase for "Customers Beware!" is what Rajmohan Pillai, chairman of Beta Group and Kerala's leading industrialist, tells prospective entrepreneurs looking to invest in the state. This is the first time the soft-spoken Pillai has made disparaging remarks about his own state. The ill-fated venture of 41-year-old Rajesh Babu of Kollam, who’s Taurean Metals became yet another victim of "trade union terrorism," prompted him to come out in the open. Babu, a West Asian returnee, spent his entire life's earnings of Rs one crore and borrowed Rs 1.5 crore to establish Taurean Metal, hoping that his zodiac sign Taurus would not let him down. By last week, it was clear to him that Taurus had not brought him good fortune, and the businesses that had cost him Rs three crore had to be closed down. The unit, the world's first fully automated iron and steel supermarket, provided customers with high-quality goods at reasonable prices. Babu even installed a massive crane for safe loading and unloading of raw materials and finished products, effectively eliminating the need for head load workers, who were a state law unto themselves. However, the trade union bosses demanded that I pay the head load workers a sum determined by them regardless of whether I used their services or not. "The unloading and loading of goods is a skilled job because it can only be done with expertise, “Customers who had placed orders with Babu for the purchase of the products were driven away by militant trade union workers.