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“Betrayed” labour federations threaten nation- wide strike at major ports

The six recognized federations of labour unions at the country’s major ports feel betrayed by the union govt. and they are firm to express their ire in form of a nation- wide total strike at the country’s these top ports, three days after the country’s Independence Day-to be precise on August 18. 

The labour unions at their respective major ports have already given a strike notice to their port managements  as per the unanimous decision of the six federations which include one federation having its allegiance with the ruling saffron party The extreme decision which would stop handling of the country’s export-import cargo at the major ports was taken on the sidelines of their Bipartite Wage Negotiation Committee meeting for the next waged revision, with the govt. side at New Mangalore on 28 last month. 

How serious about the actual the port strike this time? When this question was posed to senior labour trustee and general secretary of the biggest union at Kandla,Manohar Bellani who has since returned to Kandla after attending both the wage revision committee meeting and the meeting of the six federations, he said it was correct that they had talked about the strike earlier, but this time we would insist for a formal MoU with the govt under section  12(3) of the Industrial Dispute Act, if Chief Labour Commissioner of India calls a conciliatory meeting with them. This would be binding to both the parties and no one would back out in implementing decision taken” ,Bellani said.

 

Giving the last example of the govt. retreatment, Bellani said that though basically they were against the replacement of the old Major Port Trust Act, 1963 with the new law, Major Port Authorities Act, 2016, they okayed it with certain changes which the govt. accepted in its agreement with the them, but they found in actuality, the govt. going ahead with the act ignoring the agreement. He said that the agreement with the govt. was that there would be two labour representatives as was now under the act in the new authority and that the selection of labour trustees would be as per the existing time-tested process. But, he added, the govt. was proceeding on its way in making rules. Under the rules the govt. had kept power of appointment of labour trustees with it. He said that the federations also wanted clear provisions for protection of wage and service condition of the existing workers as well as their pensionery benefits .He said even the parliamentary committee had favoured this in its reports, but these recommendations were also being ignored. “We all feel that this was a ‘dadagiri’ (autocratic way) of the govt .which could not be accepted” he said.

 

He said that their third demand was that the fire brigade and hospital staff should not be outsourced .He said though when the port like Kandla was showing exceptional upward trend in handling of traffic with consecutive second year handling traffic exceeding 100 million tons, in spite of 1000 vacancies existing at the port, the govt. was going ahead with outsourcing. He said fire fighting, hospital and cranes operations should be recruited by the port trust themselves as they were essential services and could not be entrusted to outsourced personnel.Bellani said that since the apex court of the country had ruled that all should get equal pay ,they too had demanded equal remuneration for the outsourced staff.

 

D V Maheshwari

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