Reinstate and regularise the 60 illegally terminated workers at the Haldia Dock Complex

NO to Contract Work!

Statement by NTUI

Reinstate and regularise the 60 illegally terminated workers at the Haldia Dock Complex

Press Release, 8 August 2011, Delhi: The New Trade Union Initiative stands in solidarity with the Haldia Dock Complex Contractors' Shramik Union in its fight against the contract labour system and the illegal termination on 1 July 2011 of 60 workers of the Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) employed at the Berth No. 10 Rubber Tyred Yard Gantry Cranes under the control of the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT).

We congratulate the 2,000 workers at the HDC led by the Haldia Dock Complex Contractors’ Shramik Union for the success of the 4 hour tool-down industrial action held on 3 August 2011 which brought the port operations to a stand-still as the loading and unloading of containers from eight ships were suspended. The 60 workers who were illegally terminated have been continuously employed in the container yard for loading and unloading of containers for the last 5 years, despite two changes of contractors. This clearly indicates the sham and bogus nature of the contract arrangement. The NTUI demands that the KoPT immediately reinstate the illegally terminated workers and regularise their employment.

The company contracted by the HDC to take over on 1 July 2011 the Operation & Maintenance of four Rubber Tyred Yard Gantry Cranes, at the Container Parking Yard of Haldia Dock Complex, Mumbai based Land-Marine Equipment Services Private Limited, has ignored both the Additional Labour Commissioner’s advice to reinstate workers within 7 days, and the tripartite agreement reached on 18 July 2011 wherein they agreed to take back all the workers. The NTUI condemns the Land-Marine Equipment Services management’s blatant violation of the law of the land and visible lack of willingness to engage in negotiations in good faith for a resolution of the issue. The management of KoPT, as the principal employer has also failed in ensuring the implementation of the Additional Labour Commissioner’s advice.

This is not the first time that the contract workers of the HDC have had to fight for fair working conditions and security of tenure of employment. Over the years, HDC has gradually changed its workforce composition and created a small core of permanent employees and a growing body of workforce under temporary contract who are employed under precarious working conditions. This weakens the bargaining power of the workers.

The total workforce strength at HDC is 6700, of which 3200 are permanent workers and 3500 are contract workers. There are 600 contract workers in regular and stable jobs in different divisions who receive wages between Rs 165 to 270 per day, with limited benefits of ESI and PF, far below the earnings of permanent workers engaged in the same work. It is deplorable that these workers are kept outside the category of regular employment and exploited. The NTUI denounces the complicity of the principal employer KoPT in allowing for the contractualisation of the workforce and discrimination of contract workers in the facilities under its control. We condemn KoPT management’s use of this discriminatory practice as a tool to divide workers and marginalise contract workers and the unequal treatment given to contract workers. The NTUI upholds the right of equal pay for equal work and right to security of tenure as regular workers.

The struggle of the Haldia Dock Complex Contractors’ Shramik Union is a part of our common struggle and NTUI is committed to ensure the success of this struggle.

The NTUI demands that the Kolkata Port Trust and the Land-Marine Equipment Services management:

  • Reinstate all the dismissed workers immediately
  • Absorb contract workers employed in jobs that are perennial in nature into the KoPT workforce
  • Stop engaging in unfair labour practice and stop violating labour laws

The NTUI calls upon the Regional Labour Commissioner and the Chief Minister of West Bengal to defend the rights of the most vulnerable workers, the contract workers, and ensure that both KoPT and the Land Marine Equipment Services management follow the due process of law.

For more information,contact:

Anuradha Talwar, Convenor-NTUI West Bengal State Committee and Secretary, NTUI (09433002064)

Pradip Roy, Co-convenor-NTUI West Bengal State Committee (03322192306)