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.