After a historic 9-day Strike by Mangalore Port Trust Workers, the New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) agreed to instruct shipping companies to comply with labour laws on wages, welfare and other statutory requirements. 19 companies of stevedores, C&F agents and shipping companies agreed to all the demands of workers. Workers and the Union agreed to the 60-day time-frame sought by employers for implementation of the agreement. After this agreement, the workers – on 6 February 2018 – temporarily lifted their strike pending implementation of the agreement within 60 days.
The essential points of the Minutes of the Conciliation Meeting to which the employers agreed on 06 February 2018 are:
1. Wage Slips were being issued by some companies – now, other companies too will do the same.
2. Payment of salary through the bank.
3. Wage increase in each company every April and during Aayudha Puja every year following the practice of the past.
4. Strict implementation of applicable labour laws and statutory provisions, including ESI and PF and strict implementation of all applicable rules and regulations.
5. A 60-day time-frame to study existing salary structures and to take suitable action on the matter.
6. The employers agreed, in principle, to meet workers’ representatives to resolve workers’ grievances.
The Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner, in writing, advised the New Mangalore Port Trust management to issue instructions to all employers to comply with all labour laws and against victimisation of workers. The written advisory stated:
“All the employers are advised not to victimize any of the workers or to change the working conditions of workers adversely or to take any action against their interest. They are also advised to withdraw the notices issued by some individual companies to some of the employees unconditionally. They are also advised to withdraw all cases filed against workers.”
The 9-days strike was a wakeup call to address serious violations of human rights of workers engaged in ports. The NMPT and the employers used every trick in the book to break the unity of the workers by filing false cases, issuing notices to workers, calling them up and threatening them, but the workers’ unity could not be shaken. This is the first strike in more than 4 decades by this section of workers in NMPT and in any Major Ports across the country. The emergence of this section of the work force is itself a by-product of anti-people liberalization policies of the successive governments at the centre. The BJP and Modi led central government is duty bound to address this issue with utmost concern as it involves several tens of thousands of workers of this category all over Ports across the country.