MPT strike total, though unloading allowed

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 21 January 2000 09:55 IST

The four-day old national level port strike may not prolong for long as all the 11 ports in India had already made enough financial provision in order to meet all the 15 demands put before the port authorities by over one lakh port workers.

"Failure of conciliation proceedings led to the workers resorting to strike because their demands exceeded little beyond the limit of the budgetary provision", says Dr Jose Paul, the Mormugao Port Trust chairman, who was also part of four-member negotiating team at national level.

While the additional burden at national level would be around Rs 215 crore if all the 20 demands are met in a cordial manner, the MPT here will have shell out around Rs nine to 10 crore annually, informs Dr Paul. The minimum average monthly package for a worker would then rise to around Rs 6000.

They had already reached an agreement on 12 demands while difference of opinion had arisen on rest of the eight demands which includes period of settlement, fitment benefit, HRA, service weightage, special allowance, pension consolidation etc.

At the same time, the MPT has made up its mind to go ahead with an alternative strategy to restart the port functioning, in case the striking workers do not agree to reach a consensus by weekend. "We would be then compelled to break our cordial relation with the workers", he admits.

According to Dr Paul, MPT is the only port where they have succeeded in unloading the essential commodities like petroleum and other oil products as well as critical raw material in agreement with the striking workers. "This is something special unlike other 10 ports", he claims.

Though total ten ships including one for the export purpose has been anchored in one of the oldest natural harbour in Vasco, unloading of one such ship carrying furnace oil has already begun, to be followed by other two ships carrying naphtha and caustic soda.

"The strike however is total", admits Dr Paul, clarifying further that the port authorities have also not gone to the extent of seeking help from naval authorities to break the strike since the unions have co-operated with the MPT in not disrupting unloading of essential commodities. It has however cost MPT a loss of Rs one crore till date.

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