The Cochin Port Trust authorities have promised to look into the possibility of taking over stevedoring activities at the port in a bid to reduce cargo handling costs, claimed a press release from general convenor of the Kochi Thuramugha Samrakshana Samithi P.M. Mohammed Haneef here.

The Port authorities assured the samithi leadership at a discussion on Saturday that the Port would also buy new equipment for cargo handling and also take up handling of empty containers, the press release said. It pointed out that stevedoring activities is directly handled by the Port authority in Mumbai and Kochi would follow suit as it already is a holder of licence for stevedoring activities.

The assurance came in the presence of Central Regional Labour Commissioner K.P. Shashidhar here, the press release said. The discussions were held after the samithi issued a notice for strike raising several demands.

The Cochin Port Trust authorities made these assurances both at the bilateral discussions on January 5 and 6 and at the meeting convened by the Central Regional Labour Commissioner, the press release added.

The Port Trust authorities have also promised to modernise the container freight station and to buy new equipment. Meanwhile, the Trade Union Coordination Committee, representing the interests of around 10,000 private sector workers in the Port, claimed here on Saturday that talks convened by Mr. Shashidhar had failed. The committee warned that it would go ahead with strong protest action to press their demands. A press release issued by general convenor Charles George said that the Chief Secretary had convened a meeting to address these issues in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.