India’s largest container port, Jawaharlal Nehru Port has gone on strike as employees of one of the three container terminals at the port have stopped working.
Employees of the Gateway Terminal have called the strike to protest against suspension of three workers, who were held guilty of disrupting work in early June by an independent enquiry committee.
“There is an indefinite agitation called by a union of Gateway Terminal from September 24,” a spokesman of the private container terminal said. “We have requested the union to cooperate in smooth functioning of the port.”
Employees of Gateway Terminal had gone on a four-day strike in June this year after the management decided to hire workers from outside the ‘project affected person’ (PAP) category. An agreement between JNPT and Gateway Terminal requires the terminal operator to hire PAP, or people who had to give up their land for the development of the port.
But Gateway Terminal said it has already hired the mandated strength of workers from the PAP category.
“We have already reached the cap on hiring people from the PAP category,” a Gateway Terminal executive said. “The terminal needs skilled labour and we cannot continue to hire from the PAP group.”
The latest call for strike comes at a time when JNPT is facing capacity concerns. The port has been unable to build a new container terminal to meet the increasing demand.
“As it is, much of the cargo now goes to the ports on the west coast including Mundra and Pipavav,” a senior JNPT official said. “Now with congestion trouble, we are certain that a number of cargo will move to the ports on the west coast.”
JNPT, which handles more than 55% of the country’s container cargo, has three terminals at its facility. While Gateway Terminal operates one terminal, the other two are operated by DP World and APM Terminals.
JNPT’s own container terminal is operating at more than 120% capacity and cargo diverted from Gateway Terminal because of the strike will add further to the congestion.
With the above in play there is no doubt that lengthy transport and shipping delays will be experienced through most of November month.
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