THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: On Thursday, almost 20 after months after the Assembly passed the Kerala Maritime Board Act, 2017, the government brought out the notification handing over all the assets and liabilities of the Ports Department to the Kerala Maritime Board (KMB), much to the dismay of around 300 employees of the department.
The notification has not only created confusion whether the Ports Department has ceased to exist now, but also raised major concerns among employees.
Their long pending demand is that even after conversion to KMB, they should be retained as government employees with benefits like statutory pension and Provident Fund. The department has 422 sanctioned staff positions of which 127 are vacant at present.
“The government should bring out an executive order clarifying the matters and make it clear the port staff will remain government employees. Those employed on deputation are already on the process of going back,” said a Ports Department employee. “The notification should have been issued after clarifying the matters. With their future hanging in balance, employees have started feeling the heat,” the employee said. The employees have already raised the issue before different authorities, including the Chief Minister and Kerala Administrative Tribunal (KAT). In their representation before the Chief Minister, the employees said KAT had issued an order last December directing the state to address their grievances.
Following this, the Under Secretary, Ports Department, held a hearing in which the employees demanded steps should be taken to retain them as government employees. In their representation submitted in March, the staff urged the Chief Minister to ensure the KMB Act is enforced only after taking steps to retain them as government employees.
“With the new notification, the assets and liabilities of the Ports Department have been transferred to KMB. The Act mandates how the assets should be utilised. The rules have not yet been notified,” said K T Varghese Panicker, director of Ports and Marine Advisor.