Port operations continues to be affected

Operations at the Kochi port has come to a standstill with a section of the workers conitinuing with their strike, which entered the 7th day.

Kochi: Operations at the Kochi port has come
to a standstill with a section of the workers conitinuing with
their strike, which entered the 7th day on Tuesday.

Loading and unloading operations inside the port is not
going on, port sources said adding three ships have been
diverted to other ports. Six ships are waiting in the port for
unloading their cargo.
Since the last few days, a section of trade unions
representing certain categories of workers in the Willingdon
Island have been resorting to agitations raising various

Port sources said none of the employees or trade unions
representing the port employees, are participating in the
strike, which started off over the issue over direct loss of
employment with the shifting of port operations once the
International Container Transhipment Terminal was commissioned
on Feb 11 by the Prime minister.
According to the port, about 70 odd workers engaged by
private agencies in various on board shipping operations are
likely to be directly affected by the shiting of the
operations to Vallarpadam.

On being persuaded by the Port Trust, the Dubai Port World,
which will be operating the new terminal, has instructed the
new contractor to absorb all the 70 odd workers, subject to
their physical fitness. These workers would be given
retirement with full settlement benefits by their existing
employers and would be absorbed by the new employer.

The Steamer Agents Association, (the present
employers) have assured that the employment of all those who
are not able to get absorbed in new jobs, will be protected
and they will continue to remain in their employment. Thus,
the issue regarding loss of employment has been resolved.

The workers are also demanding continued operation of
Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal (RGCT) and restoration of the
turn system for trucks. The port trust has made it clear that
the Licence Agreement signed with the DPW clearly says that
coastal container handling in RGCT can be done only with prior
consent of DPW.

Repeated efforts made by the port trust to persuade the DPW
in this direction has failed and it is not possible for the
port to force a decision against the principles of contract
law, the sources said.

Port said until few years back, there existed a turn system in the port for booking of container trailers
and lorries. According to this turn system, the customers
have no freedom to hire trucks through competition and
negotiation, and they were forced to hire vehicles ?in turn?
at prices dictated by interested parties. Considering the
dangers of its of misuse, the Kerala High Court had intervened
to stop this system.

This system cannot be re-introduced, the port said.