Haldia Bulk Terminals will be asked to resume work by next week

The month-old crisis at the Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) of the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) seemed headed for a showdown, with the KoPT Board of Trustees deciding to serve an ultimatum on Haldia Bulk Terminals Pvt. Ltd. (HBT), the concessionaire, whose decision to retrench 275 workers ignited trouble at HDC, which handles critical cargo for the industry and accounts for a bulk of KoPT’s traffic. HBT would have to be asked to resume work by next week, the Trustee Board said.

The retrenchment decision was linked by HBT to paucity of adequate cargo.

CEO of HBT G. Malhi said on Friday that while it sympathised with the workers’ families, reinstatement of skilled hands could happen only if future cargo was given to HBT, which won the tender to handle cargo at two berths in HDC in 2009. These two berths were non-functional, affecting operations at HDC and the overall work atmosphere there.

And even as the matter acquired political overtones, with Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition making barbed comments on the matter, the two main trade unions — the Centre for Indian Trade Unions and the Indian National Trinamool Trade Union — have demanded reinstatement of the 275 workers.