MANGALORE unit of All India Port Workers Federation (AIPWF) organised a convention remembering first year of the historic first ever strike of shipping company workers engaged in New Mangalore Port Trust on 26 Jan. 2019.
AICCTU and AIPWF went on a 9 days long strike from 29 Jan 2018 to 6 Feb 2018 in Mangalore Port in Karnataka. Port operations came to a grinding halt. Workers demanded streamlining of wages and service conditions of shipping company workers who were not even paid central minimum wages, overtime wages, leave benefits or even the mandatory bonus. The issues of this section of workers engaged by shipping companies but working for Ports all over the country were not being at all addressed by any unions. AICCTU raised the issue with Port Management, Shipping Ministry and all concerned authorities. Finally, at the intervention of labour authorities, the shipping company managements agreed to the demands but sought 60 days time to fulfill it. In the process, all workers got ESI, PF and such facilities. They also receive some wage increase. Still, the fundamental demand of wages on par with employees directly employed by the Port and central minimum wages are not yet fulfilled. The union demanded, at least, common agreement between the union and all managements in order to attempt resolution of the problem which is yet to be fulfilled.
It is unfortunate that the Port authorities and the Shipping Minister of BJP government have not taken any initiative so far to address the issue. The convention at Mangalore reiterated their demands and decided to carry forward the struggle to achieve demands in toto.
Com. Divakar, General Secretary of AIPWF presided the convention and was addressed by Com Shankar, AICCTU, Clifton D Rozario, State Secretary of CPI(ML), Com. Sankara Pandian, President of AIPWF and other leaders. The AIPWF committee that met after the convention on 27 Jan 2019 decided to intensify the struggle of shipping company workers in the coming days in all ports across the country. To begin with, a convention will be held at Tuticorin in March where all union leaders from other major Ports shall also be invited. AIPWF decided to contact unions in other major ports so that we can build a movement of shipping company workers all over the country. AIPWF on its own will make systematic efforts to expand the union to Ports like Cohin, Goa, Mumbai, etc.