Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Jun 18, 2002
Denial of berth on recast board -- Kandla port workers' strike on June 27
NEW DELHI, June 17
THE workers have served a notice to go on a day-long strike at Kandla port on June 27 protesting the Union Government's failure to nominate two labour representatives on the Board of Trustees, which was reconstituted recently.
``We will organise a strike on the day the reconstituted board meets on June 27 without the labour trustees'', Mr M.L. Bellani, Secretary of the All-India Port & Dock Workers' Federation, told Business Line.
While the Kandla Port Trust management had, on the recommendations of the respective workers' federations, sent the names of the two labour representatives to the Shipping Ministry for nomination on the reconstituted board, the labour trustees had not been appointed so far, Mr Bellani said.
As per statutory requirements under the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963, two labour representatives would have to be appointed by the Union Government on the board of trustees of all major port trusts.
However, the Government has so far appointed only nine trustees on the reconstituted board the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the Kandla Port, three political nominees, one representing the local chamber of commerce and three by designation (including two from Mercantile Marine Department and the Area Manager of Indian Railways).
Out of the total strength of 19 trustees, the Government has only appointed nine persons to the board of trustees and this does not include any representatives from the labour, Mr Bellani said.
The workers' federations allege that the labour representatives are being kept out of the board deliberately by the Union Government for facilitating a smooth passage of two privatisation proposals for cargo handling facilities at the port.
The meeting of the board of trustees slated for June 27 is expected to take up proposals for re-tendering the container terminal project as well as converting the oil jetty No 1 into a bulk cargo handling facility by setting up a conveyor belt, through private participation.
The labour trustees had vehemently opposed the proposal to convert one of the berths at Kandla into a container handling facility involving P&O Ports.
The port trust could not sign the concession agreement with P&O Ports after awarding a letter of intent to the Australian company upon emerging the successful bidder for developing the project through a competitive bidding process in 1999.
The Shipping Ministry discharged the bid of P&O Ports early this year.
The re-tendering proposal now involves a clause granting monopoly over container handling to the company developing the terminal at the port. However, the issue of taking over the labour employed at the berth, which is proposed to be converted into a container terminal by a private operator, would be resolved as per the existing rules.
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