ULCCS: A Cooperative with a difference

The cooperative has become a whipping horse both for government and media which miss no chance to condemn it. There are some examples, however, which restore confidence in the viability of this model. ULCCS is one of them.

Tucked away in the southern part of the country it is exploiting cooperative concept to the hilt. Whether you are on a high way or in hi-tech park, your eyes can not miss the ubiquitous presence of this construction cooperative. ULCC indeed is a true example of successful cooperative which Indian Cooperative would like to feature in the International year of cooperative, 2012 as declared by United Nations.

If you are honest and well-meaning world gives you way. This is proved by the story of ULCCS. Considering the performances of the Society the State Government is treating society as an “Accredited Agency” to undertake works directly without tender procedure. The works under Special Development Fund for MLAs are also undertaken directly without tender procedure. Tourism Department has also approved it as the execution agency. What a clout! And all based on twin principles of integrity and quality-which underline the execution of all its projects.

Most of the Local Self Govts (Panchayat Raj Institutions) have identified ULCCS as the reliable partner for entrusting the development of roads and other facilities at the village level.

On the other end of the spectrum, ULCCS Ltd is active in National High way construction work under Ministry Of Roads Transports and Highways (MORTH) also. With these sorts of varied activities, the Society had increased its gross revenues to 76.54 crores consistently registering annual growth rate of over 30%. The Society had completed more than 3000 major projects in Kerala and about 100 projects worth more than 4000 lakhs are in various stages of completion.

Uralungal Labour Contract Co-operative Society (ULCCS Ltd), started in 1925 by eminent social reformer Sri Guru Vagbadananda in a remote hamlet Uralungal, near Vatakara in Kozhikode District in Kerala, as a novel mass movement against the anarchies of the caste system prevalent in those days, had grown today as a name synonymous with quality, workmanship, precision and efficiency in Civil works especially in roads& bridges in North Kerala.

This cooperative of skilled workers, who lost their jobs due to their social fight against superstitions and partisan practices during 1920’s and 30’s, formed for solving their unemployment played a crucial role in developing infrastructure in the independent India.
By religiously following its culture of social harmony and selfless service that bonded the initial members of the union, ULCCS had grown as the biggest Labour Contract Society by providing direct employment to over 2000 workers from rural areas.

Profile of the Society

The Uralaungal Coolie Velakkarude Paraspara Sahaya Sangham, formed during 1925, is renamed as The Uralungal Labour Contract Co-operative Society and registered under Societies Act in 1967, with its headquarters in Madapally in Vatakara Taluk in Kozhikode District.

The Society undertakes civil construction work in Infrastructure development in North Kerala Region and is one of the most preferred cooperative societies for development of roads, bridges and allied infrastructure.
Professional Governance

ULCCS has a well-defined organizational structure to execute the decisions of the board and a consultation wing to associate in making the policy decisions. The society is now the developer of UL Cyber Park, the world’s first IT Specific Special Economic Zone set up by a Labour contract cooperative society. The society emphasizes on establishment of professional governance starting from policy formulation – execution till bill collection.

For various policy decisions it takes consultation of well-known professional bodies including Indian Institute of Management, NIIT Kozhikode. It was well evident that while setting up the first Special Economic Zone of Malabar, it took consultation on master planning from Nikken Sekkei, the world’s largest architectural firm and ex-professionals from Info park, Cochin, Kerala, one of the best performing Special Economic Zones in the country.

It is this skill of the society which has helped in getting entrusted with the administrative role for various projects from the state government like SARGALAYA, craft village, a tourism project to promote handicrafts.

Besides, ULCCS has floated another initiative named ULCCS Foundation, an NGO to foray into social initiatives. The professional governance of the society is strongly set with its well framed authority – responsibility structure. Different projects will be assigned to these Directors, who in turn will be responsible for the effective completion of the same.

How it works
ULCCS Ltd. is a successful model of an LCC in the country. The Society generally takes up works in State of Kerala, well before participating in the tender, the committee members assemble to decide upon the percentage with which the society can take up the work. Many instances, after tender, negotiations happen, which is again vested with the Governing members to take decisions. In some situations the work might be awarded without floating tenders. The society also takes up works, which need to be completed in war footing. After earnings a work, the various tasks are identified and are assigned to various Directors.

Leaders, who require materials for works, allocate construction machineries and allot works for members and nonmember workers succeed each Director. If the work site is at distinct location, accommodation facilities are arranged for the work force, so as to avoid time wastage for travel and transportation.

The work force is also provided with additional allowances. Catering facilities are set in the work site itself, which helps in providing nutritious food to work force and saving time. The leaders in the site itself make all the bills of accounts and measurements.

This is checked and then signed by the members in the corresponding locality. This is then forwarded to the Directors for verification, and is passed by the President by signing the same. Subsequently these bills are taken to office for further inspection.

Cooperative Values and Principles

The society is manned and managed by labourers based on strong cooperative values and principles. Like in the case of Societies of similar kind, the activities of the Society are managed by a Board of Directors elected from the members of the Society. Currently ULCCS Ltd. has 10 members in its Board. As ULCCS Ltd. restricts its membership only to the people who contribute directly to the work undertaken by the Society, all Directors are also full time workers with the Society.

The society started with 14 members, had acquired memberships above 1000, in the due course of time. At present, the number is 1220, by the exclusion of those who has demised and those who left because of other reasons (like relocation, migration).

Apart from this, on a daily basis, the society also employs non-member workers and local labours from the locality of the construction site, amounting to a sum total of 2000 numbers. Also the society has the facilities for technological supervisions and for imparting the necessary training for the working lot. All the members of the society are construction workers. The workers should be well equipped with all tasks involved in the construction activities.

Based on the skills, sincerity, commitment and experience, the non-member workers are prompted as members by awarding with membership. The regional limits for membership are whole district of Kozhikode except Feroke whereas the society generally takes up works throughout the state of Kerala.

Society serves as a resort for those workers who loose their works in the traditional industrial sectors like weaving, coir making, beedi making, and laterite quarrying. The society also cares for those workers who are physically and mentally challenged. The entire systems and procedures of the society are based on the principles of thrift and mutual help and strong disciplinary rules and procedures.

Business sustainability

The society even after providing all the statutory dues and labour welfare expenses is able to hit remarkable growth rate in profits and expansion of its base asset.

I T Interventions

ULCCS upgrades itself to all that is possible to enhance its efficiency and execution pace. It uses Information Technology to the best in generating reports on a daily basis from stone crusher, major project sites including IT park project to enable better monitoring, analysis and reporting to enhance better decision making. The society uses updated soft wares like Tally ERP and customized ERP packages to integrate to various projects site spread over 100 locations.

Membership Education and Participation

The members participate in almost all key decision making process. Along with regular board meetings of the directors/executors of the society there are workmen’s meeting, technical review meetings and Annual General Body Meeting to put forth every key policy decision for participation from the members in number of votes.

Fair Trade and Quality Adherence

ULCCS Ltd. is an ISO 9001:2008 Organisation and has sophisticated construction equipments to complete the projects effectively. Even though the workmen of the Society hail from rural areas, they use modern state-of the art technology in their activities.
In a sense, ULCCS Ltd. is a successful example how technology adoption in grass root levels can make phenomenal changes in the lives in rural India. It is this quest for better technologies, quality and process driven operations that make ULCCS a Cooperative Society with a difference.

Presently, the society has the potential in churning 6 lakh job opportunities per annum.

Government Support

In the beginning, the society under took works of wells, aqua ducts, fencing etc of Malabar District Board and PWD in the districts of Kannur, Maplappuram, Thrissur and Palakkad. The members were so committed and dedicated to the growth of the society that, they were prepared to take up works at any distant location.

The governing members were consistent in delivering time framed quality work, started focusing on the construction of roads, as it provides opportunities for more employees. At present the society under takes works from PWD, National Highway, KWA, Irrigation Department, Harbour Engineering , DRDA, KSUDP, Tourism Department, Airport , Railways and other Local Self Governing Bodies (District, Block, Grama Panchayath).

The Society secures works by competing with other private contractors. From 1954 onwards the Government of Kerala exempts the Society from paying Earnest Money Deposit (EMD). Also in 1965, when the work Amount exceed the tender amount , the Kerala Government allotted 10% weight age, which is marked as the first allowances from the Government side.

This was a part of the initial step encouragement from Kerala Government to Labour Contract Society to sustain in the for front in delivering quality works, by competing with private contractors was a tough task, possible only with the proper back up from the Government.

The Government has always supported the society by relaxing the limits of executing works, time to time through special Government Orders. Now the society can take up the work without financial limit by enjoying the preferential benefits granted by the Government of Kerala.

Leadership

The Society’s steady growth and achievements have been under the captainship of Shri P Remeshan, the President of ULCCS. Recently Shri Remeshan has been elected as Director of National Labour Cooperative Federation. He was also elected as a Member in National Council on Labour Cooperatives (NACLC) under the Chairmanship of Honourable Minister Sri. Sharad Pawar, Union Agriculture Minister.
Rameshan was also honored with Indira Gandhi Sadbhavana award during 2005. He was also elected as a special Invitee in the State Planning Board for co-operatives. Shri. Remeshan is a visionary who is always leading the strategic team from the front to make the impossible happen.

Innovative Practices/Initiatives
Diversification
The society was formed with the main objective of societal upliftment by creating job opportunities among the weaker sections of the society. However, there is a phenomenal shift in the category of job seekers from uneducated and unskilled to educated and skilled ones.

To meet the objective of employment generation for such class of job seekers, who constitute the majority, the society realizes that it has to shift from its operations of construction works to large scale skilled employment generating initiatives like IT Parks. Apart from this, the Government has firm conviction that the involvement of the society as a strategic developer of this prestigious venture would fasten the pace of development of the Malabar Region in several folds.

On completion of the first phase of the project, the processing area will have a capacity to hold 10,000 employees. On completion of the project, the processing areas will have a capacity to hold 20,000direct employees on a single shift. The project has now got the SEZ Status of the central governmenT making ULCCS the first developer to get such a status in the Malabar Region of Kerala.

Making History in the cooperative sector
UL Cyber Park, the first IT Special Economic Zone in Malabar owned by ULCCS under construction
(b) Crusher Unit:
The society believes that the access to raw material acts a crucial factor in getting the project done within the stipulated time. For that society has now constituted a most modern stone crusher unit at Cherupara, Mukkom which provides sand and metals of required dimensions.

Stone Crusher Unit at Cheruppara, Mukkam

This diversification contributes greatly in achieving time bound project execution by the society. The total cost of this project was Rs.18 crores which was funded by NCDC by contributing 14.4 crores against society’s own contribution of Rs. 3.6 crores.

Effective Communications

All the members, including technical and the administration team practice an unique mode of communication and reporting system in order to enhance the efficiency in discussion, analysis, reporting and decision making.
Adoption of market friendly practices

The kingpin of the society is the discipline and market friendly practices of the members. The workers used to build good rapport with the population of the locality where they take up works.

Financial discipline is also deployed with due prominence, and any act of financial fraud lance or theft by a member is dispensed with intolerant actions, irrespective of the amount involved, till date.

The commitment of the society to the socially backward and downtrodden masses are evidenced by the timely intervention in undertaking and completing the construction work of dwelling houses at Muthukadu colony bordering the hill district of Wayanad.

The beneficiaries were tribe’s located in remote hill tracks with no communication facilities. We extend our helping hand during the crisis and natural calamities and we have been on the forefront in the field for round the clock for rehabilitation and relief works during “Tsunami, landslides and other natural calamities. We made available transport facility for evacuating the people from the affected areas and provided food and financial assistance to the people in the rehabilitation camps.

Awards and Recognition
NCDC Excellence Award 2008
The consistent disposition of credibility and quality in all entrusted works had gained the society with many prestigious awards and recognitions. The under mentioned representations in highly reputed boards of the government and management are some of such coveted ones.

Membership of the President, ULCCS Ltd., Nominated by Central Government, in National Advisory Council on Labour Co-operatives, New Delhi, under the Chairmanship of Honourable Minister Sri. Sharath Pawar, Union Agriculture Minister.

Membership of the President in Sub Committee for Co-operation in Kerala State Planning Board.

Management Committee Member of Calicut Management Association affiliated to Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode (IIMK)

Management Committee Member in Vaghbhadanantha Trust.

Special Momento and a Certificate was awarded by the Chief Minister of Kerala to the society in recognition of our service in Disaster Management, rehabilitation and relief work during the Tsunami, explosion in S.M.Street, Calicut, landslides and in other natural calamities.

Indira Gandhi Sadbhavana award winner in 2005

“Vocational Award 2002” presented by Rotary International

“Karma Ragna Puraskar 2008” awarded by Indo-Arab Confederation Council.

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