The government is proposing to amend the Major Port Trust Act 1963, which has so far protected the status of the ports. The amendment would mean that the major ports become autonomous, corporate bodies, which unions fear would pave the way for future privatisation.
In Mumbai, 3, 000 dock workers joined a protest in front of the Mumbai Port Trust’s administration building, alongside several union leaders, including S K Shetye, president of Mbpt Employees General Workers’ Union; and Kersi Parekh and Sudhakar Apraj, labour trustees of Mumbai Port Trust.
In a message read out to the protestors, S R Kulkarni, president of the Transport & Dock Workers’ Union & All India Port & Dock Workers’ Federation, said: “Port workers have made an immense contribution to the ongoing success of India’s major ports, which now handle 2.75 percent of global maritime trade. These ports have also been the gateways for the inflow of forex and the catalyst for the development of several industries.
“We need to protect the workforce and the assets of our ports. That’s why we are appealing to the Indian government to shelve its plans to amend the Major Port Trust Act and corporatise the major ports. If it fails to do this, port and dock workers will be forced to intensify their protests.”
The TDWU Mumbai is organising a public meeting on 29 January in Mumbai Port to raise awareness of the issues among port employees, warehousing workers, transport workers and contract workers.