The Water Transport Workers Federation of India (WTWFI) has proposed organizing a day of protests on June 7 against what it considers to be harmful policies by the government and port authorities.
T. Narendra Rao, Secretary General of WTWFI, said in a statement that the Chennai Working Committee meeting decided to seek the support of other sister unions for a September industrial action by mobilizing as many workers as possible from the major ports.
He claimed that the government’s move was aimed at destabilizing major ports and their structures, which were created through public ownership.
According to him, the government plans to demolish the public ownership structure by converting major ports to a lessor model. The vast assets created with Treasury funds are being gifted to national/transnational corporations in the name of national wealth monetization.
Also, the huge major ports land bank is being awarded in liberalized terms, diluting the latest land policy guidance, thereby understating the base price of port land. Authorities have also issued new terminologies such as BOT, PPP DBFOT, PrimeMinister’s Gati Shakthi Masterplan, New Stevedoring Policy to hand over port infrastructure to private parties.
The association also claimed there were moves to derail the wage structure of port and dock workers, which have been fashionable together for decades. The wages and other terms and conditions of dockers and port workers are determined by the bipartite wage negotiation committee. The wage revision of the employees is due from January 1, 2022, for which a joint charter of demands was submitted to the IPV in good time on September 5, 2021.
But Rao said the Indian Ports Association unilaterally set up a subcommittee to deny the legitimate right to periodic wage adjustments for port and dock workers.
The five-federation national coordinating committee on March 29 highlighted various demands, including speeding up the collective bargaining process without preconditions; Scrapping of National Assets Monetization in port sector etc. he added.