Heard of imposing a strike surcharge for shipping voyages? This is what feeder operators in Kochi Port are planning in view of the ongoing strike by trailer crew.

The feeder operators in Kochi published a trade notice to impose a strike surcharge of $ 100 per teu on two subsequent sailings.

The strike levy is to recover the loss suffered by the operators’ feedering between Kochi and Colombo on ballast (without any cargo on board).

The trailer crew strike, which began on February 4, has resulted in virtually nil export loading on the shuttle sailing to Colombo. Because of this, feeder operators have no options but to impose an immediate strike surcharge, the trade notice said.

However, the trade turned down the notice saying that they were unable to accept such levy for both export and import containers in view of the short notice.

“This is a very unfortunate thing like adding insult to injury”, P.Narayan, President of the Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry told Business Line.

The trade, he said, is already suffering because of the strike. Once the strike is over, the surcharge if it comes will be an extra financial burden to the shippers and consignees, which they would not be able to bear.

The trade has already suffered heavily in respect of lost contract, more financing charges for import cargo etc and this proposed surcharge will bring irreparable harm to the trade if implemented, he said.

Taking stock of the situation, Cashew Manufacturers and Exporters Association in Kollam decided to depend more on Tuticorin Port rather than Kochi to meet the export and import requirements of cashew.

G.Vasanthakumar, Vice President of the Association pointed out that presently 60-65 per cent of the import requirements are met through Tuticorin and the members of the association decided to raise this limit to 90 per cent on account of frequent disruptions in terminal operations in Kochi.

Harikrishnan R.Nair, Chairman, Cashew Export Promotion Council of India pointed out that more than 1000 tonnes of cashew kernels, worth about Rs 40 crore would be the pending shipments accumulated over the last 8 days.

Non fulfilment of shipping contracts leads to order cancellations which would be to the benefit competitors from countries like Vietnam, Brazil, etc. Thousands of tonnes of imported raw cashew nuts are also lying un cleared at the ICTT incurring heavy demurrage, for no fault of the processors.

Besides deterioration in quality, this adds to the cost of processing which is already under severe stress due to the fall in consumption in Europe and USA on account of the prevailing economic situation there, he said.

Nair urged the authorities concerned to take steps to resolve this problem once and for all by declaring trade transportation as an essential service and preventing wholesale disruption of service on account of strikes.

The trailer owners association said that they would resort to alternate methods to operate trailers if the next round of conciliation talks fails. The high power committee of trade also sought a permanent solution to the continuing strikes at the port.


(This article was published on February 13, 2013)
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