BMS strike paralyses Kochi port activity

via Pioneer News Service / Kochi published on April 3, 2006

Activity at the Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal at Kochi port came to a standstill as the strike by the workers’ union belonging to the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) completed a week on Sunday. The union has decided to blockade the port on Monday. 
Workers belonging to BMS and BKS intensified the strike when the talks between the unions, Cochin Container Carriers Owners Welfare Association (CCCOWA) and the District Labour Officer (DLO) failed. The DLO had initiated a dialogue between the two groups to reach an amicable solution. 
“The District administration maintained an indifferent attitude towards the striking workers. The last pay revision was implemented ten years ago. The BMS is willing to discuss matters with the district administration,” said BMS district president, MM Ramesh. 
The CITU, CTTU and INTUC had betrayed the workers by withdrawing from the strike without getting a proper assurance that the demands of the unions would be met, he added. 
“More than 500 containers have accumulated in the terminal. The apathy of the officials will bring considerable loss to the Cochin Port. The ports in the neighbouring states will benefit ,” he added. 
The week long strike had disrupted the container movement prompting the shipping companies and exporters to transfer their business to the Chennai, Tuthukudi and Mangalore ports. 
Sources at the India Gateway Terminals Limited (IGTL), the Indian arm of Dubai Port International, which runs RGCT, said that it had no intention of interfering in the strike, as the conflict was between the unions and the owners association. 
Though the protest was jointly launched by seven unions, the CITU, INTUC and CTTU workers had withdrawn their strike on an agreement with the association that the demands of revised pay and better working conditions would be addressed within 15 days.



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