KOCHI: Leaders of federations of five trade unions in the port sector have urged the government to take steps to ensure that foreign companies which operate container terminals in the country honour labour statutes.
The TU leaders, through a resolution passed at the national convention have also suggested to constitute a National Commission of India to study the labour situations at port terminals and to ensure the workers fair remuneration at least equal to the prevailing wage structure in major ports.
Dubai Port World, APM Terminals and Port of Singapore Authority are three major foreign companies having operations in India.
“The labourers employed by foreign operators at various container terminals in India are denied and deprived of their basic rights. The concept of ILO Convention (87) right to form a trade union and the right for collective bargaining (98) is jeopardised by the operators,” they said.
Occupational Safety and Health aspects are neglected at the Terminals. International norms for container safety are also overlooked. Existing Trade Unions are put into pressure and Yellow Unions are created. Union busting is their approved policy, leaders alleged. The wage pattern in each terminal also varies from terminal to terminal. The Labour Ministry’s direction to pay contract workers on par with directly employed workers are violated by the operators, they said.
TUs also urged the government to desist from the move to amend labour laws. “The intention behind these amendments is to expose the labourer to naked exploitation,” they alleged.
It is pointed out that the proposed amendments in the Factories Act, Industrial Dispute Act, Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition Act), 1970 and Apprenticeship Act, will help entrepreneurs free from the restrictions imposed by the enactments.
“The labour force will be subjected to sheer exploitation, and ‘hire and fire’ system will dominate the field,” leaders said.