Workers federations express concern over corporatisation of major ports

The national coordination committee of five major port workers federations has express serious concern over the Finance Minister’s Budget speech to corporatise major ports in the country.

This announcement is contrary to the several assurances given to the federations that, being major stakeholders in the industry, they would be consulted before any such a decision is taken.

The committee, which met in Kochi, maintained the view that corporatisation of major ports may lead to privatisation and, consequently, affect the very survival of the workers and pensioners of major ports.

Taking stock of the situation, the panel decided to hold nation-wide agitation against the move to corporatise major ports.

Unhappy over decision

ML Belani, general secretary of All India Port and Dock Workers Federation, said the government’s unilateral decision is unfair and unjust as it contradicts several assurances given to the labour federations in the matter since 2002.

The federation also expressed their anguish over the unilateral and arbitrary decisions of the Shipping Ministry in amending the existing regulations of the major ports, particularly relating to the service conditions of the employees. Now, it has become a practice in the Ministry to issue executive orders on various services-related matters, particularly relating to Conduct Regulations and Classification, Control and Appeal Regulations disregarding the statutory provisions of the MPT Act.

The Ministry’s frequent intervention in the day-to-day activities of the major ports has created havoc in the functioning of the ports, thereby causing undue hardship to the management in the administration of ports, he said.

Though it was assured to the labour federations that periodical discussions would be held to sort out labour and port-related matters at the level of Shipping Secretary, he said this was not honoured in letter and spirit, causing undue delay in sorting out labour-related matters in the major ports.