26 Nov 2021  |   06:38am IST

Port, dock workers worry about impact of Ports Act

The Group C and D employees of all the major ports set to go on indefinite strike on or after Dec 15
Port, dock workers worry about impact of Ports Act

Team Herald

VASCO:  The National Working Committee meeting of All India Port and Dock Workers Federation (AIPDWF) held at Mormugao Port on November 24 and November 25, 2021 expressed its serious concern on the implementation of the Major Port Authorities Act, 2021, repealing Major Port Trust Act, 1963. 

Federation, strongly believe that the intention of the present enactment is to convert the major ports as companies and subsequently entrust it to the hands of private cartels as has been done in the cases of the several public sector undertakings in the country. The board under MPT Act, 1963 was so representative and takes keen interest of all including Trade, Government and labour. “The representation of such various vital interests at port is now lost and will go to the hands of a small group of bureaucrats. It is pertinent to note that, such a structure will be highly bureaucratic in nature than more autonomous and give more chances for the frequent intervention of the government.  It is our considered opinion that the present enactment has been created by the bureaucrats with clear intention of seeking opportunities after their retirement,” it stated. 

As per the press note issued by the AIPDWF, it has been stated by the Government that the intention behind the introduction of MPA Act, 2021 is to ensure more autonomy and transparency in the Management of Major Ports. It would have been better if any amendments are required to MPT Act may be made to suit to the existing market condition and the competitions which are being faced by the major ports due to creation of new ports (Private Ports) at the vicinity of the major ports that can be done in consultation with all stakeholders.

The Federation mentioned that the procedure to be evolved for nomination of Labour Trustees in the Authority Board has also not yet been discussed with them as assured. 

Federation claimed that unfortunately, the major ports are being strangled by the deficiency of modern equipments and technology as well as insufficient human resource. Further, unscientific planning to create a number of ports in and around major ports, disregarding various Expert Committee Recommendations. “Intervention of the Ministry on day to day affairs of the major ports is one of the biggest hurdles for its functioning. Therefore, it is not the law but the approach and policy of the Authority is the matter of concern,” it stated. 

Federation is concerned that present enactment would be more bureaucratic because all the members in the Authority Board, except the labour and independent members, are bureaucrats, who are bound to carry out the instructions of the government in the management of the ports. “They may not take any independent decision and will act only on the instructions of the ‘BOSSES’. In fact, the functioning of the ports will be under the clutches of the ministry and the corporate at large; so the contentions of the government that the ports will have more autonomy by introducing the new Act is a false propaganda with ulterior motive.,” it said.  

Now the enactment has come in to effect as per the Notification issued by the Government in the official gazette effective from 03.11.2021. The rules are being finalised unilaterally. “The assurances given to the Federations by the ministry, by the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Transport and Tourism, Chief Labour Commissioner’s Conciliation proceedings and Indian Ports Association have not been honoured,” said the Federation adding that several statutory settlements are yet to be implemented that include variable DA of the Group C and D employees of the major ports, which had been frozen from 01.07.2020 to 30.06.2021 illegally has not been refunded. 

Considering all the above aspects, the five federations’ have already written to the management and government that the Group C and D employees of all the major ports shall go for indefinite strike on or after December15. All the affiliates of Five Federations have been advised to notify respective Port Authorities on or before 30th November, 2021.