Workers plan long-drawn campaign to revive port

The Cochin Port Joint Trade Union Forum, an umbrella organisation of trade unions with different political affiliations, has planned a long-drawn-out campaign, including a token strike at the end of October, to press for reviving the fortunes of the Cochin Port.

The trade union demands include appointment of more workers to meet the day-to-day activities at the port. The number of employees had come down from 6,800 at one point of time to 1,300 as there was a virtual ban on new appointments since 1992, said a statement from the trade union combine. Though the staff strength had come down, the volume of cargo handled had gone up three times, the statement claimed.

The number of workers for port operations was so low that sometimes cargo vessels skipped Kochi and even then the port management was trying to implement retirement schemes, the statement added.

Container terminal

The closure of the Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal had “broken the back of the port”, the trade union combine said, adding that the present container terminal operator had not risen to the expectations.

Though the company was expected to bring in a volume of 10 lakh TEUs per year, it was still handling only about six lakh TEUs. The low volume of container throughput had caused a lot of problems for the port and its workers, added the statement.

The workers said the Cochin Port Trust management was bowing to the demands of the container terminal operator despite the operator not meeting the business target and other conditions in the licence agreement.

The union has also demanded diversification of the port’s business as well as establishment of facilities to handle containerised cargo on its own. There was no new project of its own for the port, said the trade union, adding that it would hold widespread consultations before launching protests to press their demands.

Port Trust Chairman M. Beena said the port union of employees had raised certain issues with the regional labour commission, which was under adjudication. She said the port authorities had discussions with the unions on the demands raised by them.

She had earlier said that the port was on the path of diversification of its business and identifying new revenue streams. The Port Trust ended financial year 2018-19 with a cargo throughput of over 32 million tonnes and operating surplus of more than ₹210 crore. The port’s net profit also rose from ₹13.55 crore (2017-18) to ₹19.2 crore last year.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 7:38:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/workers-plan-long-drawn-campaign-to-revive-port/article28494052.ece

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