Cochin Port operations paralysed following workers strike

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Kochi, Nov 15 (UNI) Operations at the Cochin Port, stalled following a lightning strike by workers yesterday afternoon, continued to be paralysed for the second day today with the first round of talks convened by the regional labour commissioner not yielding any breakthrough.

''All loading, unloading, traffic and other operations at the Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal, operated by Dubai Ports World, and Cochin Port have come to a halt following the strike,'' port sources said.

Five partially loaded ships continued to be berthed at the port while three more were waiting outside, they said.

''This is a very unfortunate development, especially when Dubai Ports World is about to begin work on the Vallarpadam International Container Transshipment Terminal shortly,'' a spokesman for Cochin Port said.

The trouble flared up yesterday afternoon at the Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal when the terminal authorities did not deploy any gangmen for unloading operations, which have been mechanized.

The employees then launched a lightning strike in the container terminal and also the main port.

Accusing the terminal authorities of ''anti-labour practices'', union leaders allege that they were making the operations automated without consulting the employees.

Port authorities, however, say that the employees concerned were permanent staff of the port. Even if they were not deployed by the terminal for unloading work, their status as permanent employees of the port remained unaffected.

While the first round of negotiations with the regional labour commissioner this morning failed to yield any result, the talks were resumed again in the afternoon to find a solution.


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